Vandalism Cut Off Gas for Thousands of Residents in Colorado

(AP) — Authorities were investigating the vandalism of Aspen, Colo.’s natural gas system which left thousands of residents and visitors without gas in the middle of the busy holiday season.

The FBI and state law enforcement officials were working with police to investigate the disruption, which began Dec. 26, Aspen assistant police chief Bill Linn said, The Aspen Times reported.

“They would have had to have some familiarity with the system” to pull off the sabotage, he said of those responsible. “They tampered with flow lines. They turned off gas lines.”

“Earth First!” was found written on a pipe at a natural gas pumping station near the ski resort town. That is the name of an environmental group but it has not claimed responsibility for the outage, Linn said. 

The outage left more than 3,500 homes and businesses, including hotels and restaurants, without natural gas for heating or cooking, the area’s utility, Black Hills Energy, said. Many people used electric space heaters to keep warm and the utility provided 4,000 space heaters that were distributed by police Monday. 

In order to restore service, crews must turn off the gas meters before going door-to-door to relight gas appliances, the utility said.

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