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Latah County Commissioners issue state of emergency due to natural gas pipeline damage

A photo of Lewiston, Idaho
Jeremy Segrott
Lewiston, along with many surrounding communities, is without natural gas services after a pipeline was damaged north of the city. Avista Utilities says it currently doesn't know when service will be restored.

UPDATE (11/10 12:40 p.m.): The Latah County Board of Commissioners chair Tom Lamar has issued a state of emergency after a natural gas pipeline ruptured, leaving thousands of people and businesses without natural gas heating.

The declaration is in effect for seven days, unless the board extends it.

ORIGINAL STORY: About 37,000 schools, businesses and homes are without natural gas heating in large areas of north central Idaho and parts of eastern Washington after a supply pipeline was damaged near Colfax.

Avista, the area utility that distributes natural gas it receives from the pipeline, said customers should expect to be without it through the weekend.

The shutdown affects Moscow, Pullman, Lewiston, Clarkston, Asotin, Albion, Palouse, Uniontown, Colton, Genesee, Troy, Bovil and Deary.

In addition to school districts in these affected areas, University of Idaho’s Moscow campus will be closed for the rest of the week.

Washington State University says it has switched to an alternative heating source and classes remain scheduled.

Avista said on its website the pipeline, which is operated by a third-party company, Williams Pipeline, to supply natural gas to Avista, was struck between Colfax and Pullman Wednesday afternoon.

The utility company announced they would manually shut off all gas meters in the area as repairs are being made.

An Avista news release says Williams expects to complete repairs on the pipeline by late Thursday.

Should that timeline hold, Avista said in the release that it expects to begin relighting its system on Friday.

However, complete restoration of service to customers is estimated to take three to five days.

The outage sparked a run on electric heaters at LC Valley stores, according to the Lewiston Tribune, which eventually sold out.

Low temperatures in the area for the next several days are expected in the low to upper 30s.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more information becomes available.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!
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