(Canadian Press)

UPDATE: FortisBC warns pipeline explosion could lead to dip in natural gas supply

The blast forced about 100 members of the nearby Lheidli T’enneh First Nation from their homes

FortisBC is warning its one million customers across the province that they could lose natural gas services following an pipeline rupture in Prince George Tuesday night.

Police say the explosion along an Enbridge natural gas pipeline sparked a massive fire at about 5:30 p.m. in Shelley, about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George, forcing about 100 members of the nearby Lheidli T’enneh First Nation from their homes.

The pipeline is part of the Westcoast Transmission System, transporting natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

FortisBC and Puget Sound Energy are now asking customers to conserve natural gas and electricity – including lowering thermostats and limiting hot water use.

“We are anticipating decreased energy flow and potential loss of service to some gas customers,” FortisBC said, adding a dip in service could impact 70 per cent of its total customers.

Currently Fortis has reserves still in the pipeline south of Prince George, in its liquefied natural gas storage tanks in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, and there is some gas flowing from Alberta through a pipeline in southern B.C., said Doug Stout, FortisBC vice-president of external relations.

FortisBC is looking to add to its supply by bringing in gas through the TransCanada line from Alberta and activating its two B.C. liquefied natural gas plants, the Tilbury Island facility in Delta and the Mt. Hayes facility near Ladysmith.

The company has also talked to industrial customers about switching to alternative fuel sources.

Fortis expected to receive updates on the situation as Transportation Safety Board investigators and National Energy Board inspectors arrived to assess the damage and attempt to determine a cause.

The company will update its customers as soon as it is in a position to offer something new, said Stout.

READ MORE: VIDEO – Pipeline explosion causes evacuation near Prince George

On Tuesday night, homes within several kilometres were placed under an evacuation order as a precuation, police said, but have since been given some the go-ahead to return home. An evacuation order is still in effect around a one-kilomtre radius.

No one was injured, according to RCMP. The gas supply has been shut off.

It remains unclear what caused the explosion.

National Energy Board spokesman Tom Neufeld said the fire was along Enbridge’s Westcoast main line, which falls under the board’s jurisdiction.

“NEB inspectors have been deployed to this area. They’re going to monitor and oversee the company’s response to the incident, and they’re going to determine the impact and extent of the fire and release,” Neufeld said.

With files from The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

Expect rolling street closures, bus delays as truck convoy moves through region Saturday

The annual Truck Light Convoy will roll through the region starting at 5:45 p.m.

Single mom caught up in Langford rental scam could be homeless for the holidays

Man took $3,900 cash for deposit and first month’s rent then disappeared

UPDATED: 64-year-old Victoria man David Atkins found

Atkins was found by Sooke RCMP on Saturday morning

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C.-born hockey official talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Rob Shick will represent NHL at 4th World Hockey Forum in Russia

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Most Read