People in Santaquin don't let little problems like sub-zero temperatures and no heating fuel bother them.
"Everyone was just fine," Ralph Coomes, Santaquin police chief, said Thursday. "We arranged to have anyone who wanted heat to sleep in the Payson city center, but no one went; they all wanted to rough it."The 2,200 city residents lost access to natural gas after a regulator failure at the Mountain Fuel Co. at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Crews worked non-stop until noon Thursday to restore service.
"We had about 30 people, some from Provo and some from the two Salt Lake stations," Susan Glassman, Mountain Fuel spokeswoman, said. "People had to go door to door to every single house and business in the area to shut off the meters, put the gas in the line, then go back to all the homes to turn meters on and check appliances and relight pilot lights. So it's a rather lengthy process."
Coomes said bishops from the five LDS wards organized volunteers to spread details of the problem to the city's 700 households and to see if any Santaquin residents needed help. They were careful to make sure needs of the elderly were met, he said.
"It worked really well. It would have taken us a lot longer if we had to contact everyone ourselves," Coomes said. "The police were already busy. We had all but one of our officers on duty. That sounds better than saying we had two officers on duty."
Coomes said many city residents have wood stoves, space heaters or electric blankets. Those with extras loaned them to friends and relatives, he said.
Glassman said most residents had service restored by Thursday afternoon.
"Everyone who was home is back in service. We have had a little trouble tracking down people who work, but we expect to have restored natural gas to every residence by Thursday night."
Glassman said she could not be sure what had caused the problem, but she believed the regulator, which pumps gas through pipes to fuel furnaces, had frozen. Crews bypassed the damaged equipment to restore service, she said.
Coomes said people were warned to leave a tap running to keep water pipes from freezing in colder-than-usual houses. It must have worked, he said, because he got no reports of frozen pipes.
Glassman said there was a "silver lining" to the problem. If the damage had occurred a night or two before, residents would have been much colder. Temperatures as low as 20 below zero were recorded in Utah County over the weekend.
William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge at the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, said the Wednesday night low was 3 below zero in nearby Payson.