Written by Bernie Carr
I didn’t see this story widely reported by the media so I thought I’d share it with you. A vandalism attack on gas utility service in Aspen, Colorado left thousands without heat on Saturday, December 26th. Temperatures fell to 2 degrees Fahrenheit at the time, according to the National Weather Service.
The attack was perpetrated on three different Black Hills Energy gas line sites: two in Aspen and the other in Pitkin County. They were coordinated and happened at the same time. All three sites had been locked “with security measures” but the locks were “defeated.”
There were no security cameras at any of the sites. According to The Aspen Times, the name of a radical environmental organization was scrawled on one of the gas lines.
It was not clear Monday whether members of the “Earth First!” group were involved in the intentional disruption of gas service to the Aspen area — which resulted in thousands of people living without heat or hot water — but the name was found at one of three Black Hills Energy sites vandalized, said Bill Linn, Aspen assistant police chief.
It’s almost, to me, an act of terrorism,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper, who was without heat Monday at her Smuggler Mountain-area home. “It’s trying to destroy a mountain community at the height of the holiday season. This wasn’t a national gas glitch. This was a purposeful act.The Aspen Times
The FBI’s critical infrastructure protection unit is investigating the crime.
Investigators say the individual or individuals responsible, will face several felony charges, including tampering with utilities transmission lines, or possibly a tampering charge unassociated with utilities, and a burglary charge.CBS Denver
As of December 31st, police have released a photo of a possible suspect, according to CBS-Denver. The image showed the person walking away from the scene, said to be wearing upscale clothing, and carrying a laptop case on his back.
Has service been restored?
Around 3500 utility customers were affected by the outage. According to gas utility operations, they would have to purge, repressurize and test the system before they can turn the meters back on. Then they would have to re-light all the pilot lights,which required someone to be home for the technician to perform the task.
If this were a “normal time,” city officials would have normally established warming centers, but COVID-19 protocols prevented that step. While the gas utility worked hard to restore service it still took time to restore service. It happened on a Saturday, however many residents were still without heat on Tuesday. Police helped distribute space heaters to the residents.
What can be learned from this?
Such an attack shows us that elements of our infrastructure can be interfered with therefore it is best to be prepared.
- Have alternate ways to heat your home. Stock up on blankets, space heaters, hand warmers etc.
- Prepare for a power outage. There have been threats to the power grid for some time.
- Learn how to keep your home cool without electricity.
- You never know when your town will have a boil water order. Invest in a good water filter and water storage.
- Most disasters occur on a local or regional level. Your surrounding area may sustain damage so you may need to evacuate temporarily until order is restored or it’s safe to return. Consider possible destinations you can get to with a tank of gas: family or friends you can stay with, a hotel in the next town. If you have pets, you’ll need to make plans for them as many shelters do not allow pets. You should have cash and a 72 hour bug out bag in case you have to leave right away.
- Keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times in case you need to evacuate.
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About the author:
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.