Homes left in the cold after burst main floods gas pipe

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THOUSANDS of residents in the Capital have been left without heating after a burst water main flooded a gas pipe.

Scotia Gas Networks has warned it may be several days before the supply is restored to more than 1000 homes in 26 streets in the Granton and West Pilton area.

Two schools have also been closed as a result of the problem, which comes as freezing winds and rain cause temperatures to plunge in the Capital.

A spokeswoman for the company said that the water entered the gas main from Pennywell Road at some point yesterday afternoon and engineers had been working to establish the size of the problem.

She said the first step was to visit houses to shut down the gas supply at the meter. After that they can begin to remove water from the network.

In the meantime, she said it was important that residents did not attempt to use the gas.

“When water enters gas pipes it’s a long process to fix,” she said. “We have to visit the individual properties, make sure the gas is switched off and then we do what’s known as a purge and relight where we suck all the water out of the pipe. Then we gradually introduce the gas back into the pipes.”

The company said extra staff would be brought in to help.

The elderly, disabled, chronically sick and those with young children are being offered portable electric appliances for cooking and heating.

The YMCA on West Pilton View was one of the properties left without gas central heating, but staff said its 14 residents were still able to use the electric cookers.

It was said to have been experiencing problems with the radiators since Wednesday.

An elderly resident, who asked not to be named, said she had been without heating for the entire day and had to stay in bed to keep warm. Another resident in the area said: “I feel sorry for those families who have children. You can’t keep them in those conditions.”

The city council confirmed last night that two primary schools, Pirniehall and St David’s, would be closed today.

A spokesman said: “The schools were not closed yesterday as there was enough residual heat to keep them going through the afternoon, but that won’t continue to be the case.”

Scottish Water said it was not known what caused the water main to burst, but it would be conducting an investigation.

A spokesman said residents were without water for some time yesterday afternoon as engineers had turn off the supply in order to limit the amount water getting into the network and then fix the problem.

He said: “We will now look to work with Scotia Gas Networks and will assist them in getting gas supplies back to normal.”