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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Avista nears completion of natural gas restoration on the Palouse

Crews continue work on Friday at the site of the Williams Pipeline rupture along Highway 195 about 5 miles northwest of Pullman.  (James Hanlon/The Spokesman-Review)

Avista Utilities has restored natural gas service to about 32,000 customers in the aftermath of a disastrous pipe rupture in Whitman County caused by a landowner who was installing a drainage pipe.

The gas outage across the Palouse and the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley was the largest in the company’s history.

About 3,750 customers remained without the service as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to an Avista news release.

Fewer than 250 customers still needed an initial visit, which were expected to be completed Tuesday night. About 3,500 other customers still needed their gas restored after they were not available during initial attempts to relight their appliances.

Avista urged residents and businesses who were not home during initial attempts for restoration to call (800) 227-9187 to have a representative come back to relight their appliances.

“We are extremely grateful to our customers for their patience and support throughout the past week,” Heather Rosentrater, Avista president and chief operating officer, said in the release. “This was a difficult time for residents and business owners in the Palouse and L/C Valley. We want the entire community to know that the kindness our service teams experienced was witnessed and felt.”

Besides Avista employees, Avista spokesman Jared Webley said eight mutual aid partners from Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Montana, as well as private local heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors, assisted in the restoration efforts.

Joseph Williams, gas service representative at Pacific Gas & Electric Company, told The Spokesman-Review he and about 90 PG&E employees traveled from Northern California to assist Lewiston customers. They’ve been working there since Friday.

“It’s been a great experience,” Williams said. “The customers have been more than welcoming and kind.”

At the height of the outage, over 800 people were going door-to-door to relight customers’ appliances.

“We are extremely proud of our employees, mutual aid partners and local HVAC contractors for accomplishing this extraordinary effort,” Rosentrater said. “We will forever be grateful. It took thousands of work-hours to restore services.”