UPDATE: Accident results in natural gas outage

UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 12:45 p.m. (EST)

An early morning accident left an abundance of locals in the L’Anse area without heat.

Around 4 a.m. Friday morning, a truck struck a gas line, igniting the SEMCO Energy natural gas gate station. Deputies say the vehicle involved in the accident was headed northbound when it ran off US-41 just west of L’Anse Avenue. Baraga County Emergency Manager Jeffrey Hubbard says Baraga Area Schools, Keewenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, and the Big Bucks Bingo Hall will all serve as warming centers while crews work to restore natural gas service.

“An area for people to get warm, get something warm to drink,” Hubbard said. “The health department has been advised and they will be on hand.”

According to the Baraga County Sheriff’s Office, around 1,200 SEMCO Energy natural gas customers in the L’Anse area could be without gas for up to three days. Luckily, one SEMCO customer has a backup plan, and is ready to continue helping the community. The Baraga County Memorial Hospital is still running in full force.

“The gas outage has not affected the hospital,” Hale said. “The hospital has backup gas oil, so we’re able to heat our facility. We are fully operational: our ER, our impatient, our physician clinic. We do have some minimal outages in some of our areas.”

The minimal outage is the hospital’s kitchen. Hale says patients and employees are being served warm soup, sandwiches, and have access to a salad bar as well. But for other SEMCO customers, temporary sources of heat can be dangerous, and full restoration is a lengthy process.

SEMCO Energy advises that restoring natural gas involves crews physically turning off service at each individual customer’s location before repressurizing the system, and then going back to each site to turn the gas service back on.

“I just want to caution people,” Hubbard said. “If they are utilizing electric space heaters to be cautious with them, don’t plug them into extension cords, that type of thing. Plug them directly into a wall outlet. Don’t use any type of heater in your home that will produce carbon monoxide.”


UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 9:45 a.m. (EST)

Deputies from the Baraga County Sheriff’s Office have released more information about this morning’s accident and the subsequent natural gas outage in L’Anse.

Deputies say the vehicle involved in the accident was headed northbound when it ran off US-41 just west of L’Anse avenue. It struck a gas line, igniting the SEMCO gate station. The L’Anse Fire Department responded and brought the fire under control. The accident remains under investigation.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, around 1,200 natural gas customers in the L’Anse area could be without gas for up to three days. In addition to the warming center set up in the Baraga Area School, additional warming centers are being set up at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College and Big Bucks Bingo Hall.


UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 9:20 a.m. (EST)

The Baraga County Memorial Hospital is operational despite the natural gas outage affecting the area.

The facility is running on backup fuel oil and can sustain itself indefinitely. The hospital does have heat, although it is minimal in non-critical areas. The Emergency Department and Inpatient Unit are fully operational.

The BCMH Physician Group is open to see patients today, although some areas have minimal heat. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Polly Manning at (906) 524-3322.


UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 8:45 a.m. (EST)

SEMCO Energy has released a map of areas affected by the natural gas disruption in the Village of L’Anse and L’Anse Township. It can be viewed by clicking here. The company is also providing updates on the restoration efforts at their website, www.semcoenergygas.com.


UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 7:45 a.m. (EST)

Officials from SEMCO Energy say there is no restoration timeline established yet for the natural gas outage in the Village of L’Anse. They advise that restoring natural gas service involves crews physically turning off service at each individual customer’s location, repressurizing the system, and then going back to each site to turn the gas service back on. This results in a lengthy restoration process.

Baraga County Emergency Manager Jeffrey Hubbard says Baraga Area Schools will serve as a warming center while natural gas service is out.


UPDATE — Friday, December 23rd, 2016 7:15 a.m. (EST)

Officials from the Village of L’Anse Water Department say that reports indicate heat in the Village could be out for up to two days. They ask that residents keep a close eye on their water over the next couple of days. Residents are asked to let their water run if it begins to slow down to avoid damage to pipes.

Stay with ABC 10 for the latest updates on this developing situation.


L’ANSE — A fire in Baraga County caused a portion of US41 to close early this morning.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Negaunee Post say a natural gas line broke after a vehicle struck the main break at a natural gas substation shortly before 4:00 a.m. The portion of US41 between L’Anse Avenue and Lambert Road in L’Anse was blocked off. Officials say they hoped to have the highway open by 6:00 a.m.

Deputies from the Baraga County Sheriff’s Office say natural gas customers in the village of L’Anse are currently without service. There is currently no estimate as to when service will be restored.

No injuries were reported.

[Photo courtesy Todd VanDyke]