LOGAN SQUARE — Hundreds of Logan Square residents were without natural gas — and heat — Tuesday and Wednesday after a large, safety-related People’s Gas outage in the neighborhood.
The gas company expected to begin restoring service about noon Wednesday, but the process could take hours as crews have to go into each home to turn on pilot lights and appliances, company spokespeople said.
It is unclear what caused the widespread outage. Company spokespeople said the investigation was ongoing as of Wednesday afternoon, adding only that the company “acted quickly to ensure safety.”
The outage impacted about 1,300 residents living in an area bounded by Belden Avenue to the north, Armitage Avenue to the south, Kedzie Avenue to the east and Hamlin Avenue to the west, People’s Gas spokesman David Schwartz said. Some residents a little east of Kedzie Avenue on McLean Avenue were also impacted, Schwartz said.
The outage started about 2 p.m. Tuesday, Schwartz said. Dozens of People’s Gas crews descended on the neighborhood to shut off residents’ gas lines after the safety-related issue. Some were seen working in the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.
Some residents said they were disappointed in the company’s lack of communication. They said workers came to their door to shut off their gas without explanation and then they started receiving robocalls during which the company said their heat would be restored Wednesday but didn’t provide a specific time.
“They don’t seem to be very effective at telling anybody what’s going on or setting any sort of expectations as to when we can get our heat back,” said Josh Gartler, whose home was one of those that lost its natural gas.
Sara Pfannkuche, another impacted resident, agreed, saying, “If there’s a way we could get information, it would be great.”
“Not knowing: Do I park in front of my apartment? Are they going to dig there? Other people got [their cars] towed. I wish they were more communicative in what is going on.”
The outage comes during a warmer stretch; Wednesday saw temperatures higher than 50 degrees. But residents said the outage would’ve had a dire impact had it happened just a few weeks ago, when Chicago was experiencing frigid temperatures.
People’s Gas spokespeople said the company is focused on restoring service as quickly as possible. Schwartz said gas will begin flowing underground about noon Wednesday; at about 2 p.m., crews will go door to door to restore service at each resident’s home, a process the company expects to continue through the evening.
“As you would imagine, that’s a time-consuming process,” Schwartz said.
People who have been impacted should make sure at least one resident who is 18 or older is home Wednesday to let workers inside, Schwartz said. Residents who aren’t home will get a card with a number to call so crews can come back.
People’s Gas has been overhauling its system and replacing Chicago’s aging pipes as part of a massive, $2.4 billion modernization plan. Critics say the multi-year plan has been mired with delays and mismanagement.
The outage in Logan Square shines a light on the need for such upgrades, the company said. Under the plan, meters will be moved outside and systems will be automated, which will eliminate the slow door-to-door process underway, officials said.
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