Equipment failure blamed for natural gas outage in Cleveland

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Gas outage leaves 1,400 customers in the cold in Cleveland (KTRK)

Syble Campbell is one of the more than 3,000 people without heat in her house as the temperatures drop into the teens.

She has two grandchildren at home, including a newborn.

"Right now, in the house, it's about 57 (degrees)," said Campbell on Wednesday night.

Campbell added Walmart was out of heated blankets, so she bought heating pads and hand warmers.

"Of course, we're doing it at the late hour," Campbell explained. "Because my house has never frozen in the 20 years I've lived there. "

CenterPoint Energy told Eyewitness News that a piece of equipment froze and broke in Tuesday night's cold. The utility fixed it, but now they have 100 crews in town going door to door to make sure the gas lines are good to go.

"Safety is our number one priority as we work to restore natural gas service," said Gary Chalk, district director for CenterPoint Energy in a written statement. "As part of our safety procedures, to ensure that there is no air in the natural gas distribution lines, we have begun the process of turning off each customer's natural gas meter."

It affects everyone in the city with natural gas, which amounts to some 1,400 customers and as many as 3,400 residents. That's roughly 40 percent of Cleveland's population.

That's why the city worked quickly to open up the civic center to anyone who needed it.

"We have a place for them to sit," said the city's emergency management coordinator, Glen Barnhill. "If they need to bed down, they've been asked to bring their own bedding, since we don't have any of that. If they need to spend the night, they can spend the night."

CenterPoint said the gas will start coming back on as early as tonight, but it could take 72 hours to get most of the customers on line.

Campbell said until then, she'll do the best she can at home with heating pads and warm pajamas.

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