Explosion rocks pipeline in Manitoba

Several thousand people in southern Manitoba have been told that a pipeline explosion could mean they'll be without natural gas service for up to several days as temperatures hover close to —20 C.

"As far as the temperature is concerned, the words 'polar vortex' is what they're saying," Myron Dyck, a spokesman for the Town of Niverville, said on Saturday.

The explosion and fire at a TransCanada Pipelines valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys happened early Saturday morning, sending a massive fireball into the dark sky.

But Manitoba Hydro said that in order to repair the line, TransCanada shut off its supply of natural gas for several municipalities affecting approximately 4,000 people.

The utility said it had no estimate from TransCanada about when service would be restored and that customers should prepare for the outage to last at least one day.

The temperature in Niverville on Saturday afternoon was —18 C and Environment Canada was calling for even colder temperatures on Sunday and Monday.

Niverville Deputy Mayor John Funk said in a statement on the town's website that depending on the extent of the repairs, service is expected to be lost for minimum of 24 hours to multiple days.

Funk said Manitoba Hydro is asking residents to turn down thermostats and minimize use of electric heaters. He also urged caution when using all types of space heaters, and warned people not to use barbecues or any other unapproved heaters indoors that might produce carbon monoxide.

Five homes were evacuated as a result of the explosion and roads leading into the site were closed.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the National Energy Board are investigating.

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