Two north-east towns could be without gas heating and hot water for a considerable amount of time due to a “major disruption” with the supply.
Residents in Keith and Huntly have had no gas since the early hours of this morning, affecting heating in homes during one of the coldest mornings of the year.
It is understood that the gas supply may be off for a considerable amount of time with SGN in urgent talks with Aberdeenshire and Moray Council about mitigation for residents.
This could last until Thursday.
An Incident Management Team has been set up across the local authorities to help with the ongoing issue.
Distribution points could be set up across Huntly and Keith, where electric heaters will be handed out to those who have no other way of warming up their homes.
About 4,500 properties have been affected by this outage, which is the majority of homes in both towns.
St Thomas Primary School in Keith has been closed until Thursday due to a lack of heating.
Get in touch with council if you are struggling
Councillor Theresa Coull lives in Keith and has had no gas since this morning.
She urged people who had no heating or cooking facilities to get in touch with Moray Council, and they would help as much as they can.
She said: “We want to make sure that there is no one in the town struggling and we are doing everything we can to make sure that no one is cold and cannot cook food.
“Keith has a fantastic community spirit, with Longmore Hall and the Premier Convenience store both offering facilities to anyone who needs it.
“The Covid volunteer group has also stepped up and will be out and about helping.
“If anyone has any spare electric heaters that can be spared, they should offer them out to those in need.
“The gas company has reported that is a ‘major distruption.”
SGN has identified the problem with the supply and are working on a fix.
However, they have confirmed that residents may be left without gas overnight as engineers remain on-site.
Switch off gas, residents urged
SGN spokeswoman Katie Lobban urged residents in Keith and Huntly to turn off their gas supply completely so that the problem can be fixed quickly.
To do this, they must turn off all gas appliances and then turn it off at the meter.
Full instructions can be found here.
Letters are being distributed to all properties in the towns with a label that must be displayed outwards for engineers to see.
Ms Lobban added: “If anyone has concerns, they can speak to one of our engineers working in the area or call our 24-hour Customer Service Team on 0800 912 1717.
“Finally, we’d like to thank all affected residents for their understanding and support while we work to restore gas supplies to the area.”
Ms Coull added: “We are lucky enough to have an electric heater but I keep trying to do things unaware they won’t work, like wash the dishes or have a shower.
“It seems like every single property from Fife Keith to Newmill, Fyvie and Huntly has been affected by this.”
Huntly and Keith residents, we need your help. For your safety, we need you to turn off your gas supply at the meter. Please read our latest update with full instructions: https://t.co/U2YxB6B5yA@TheMorayCouncil @Aberdeenshire @BBCNorthEast @MorayMSP pic.twitter.com/8qyP8Mp7Pz
— North East Police (@NorthEPolice) February 2, 2021
Police have released an instructional video showing how residents can switch off their gas supply.
It is advised that this is done “immediately”.
Information leaflets are to be displayed on front doors or windows so it is visible for engineers.
Moray Council response
Moray Council is identifying vulnerable council house tenants to offer suport, with Health and Social Care Moray doing the same.
The Grampian Coronavirus Assistance Hub is making calls to those on the shielding list.
Moray Council is also contacting its 450 council house tenants with gas heating.
Council tenants who haven’t heard from the local authority yet can request additional support by calling 0300 123 4566.
Moray Council Chief Executive, Roddy Burns, said: “All agencies are pulling together to ensure the welfare of all residents in Keith and the surrounding area at an already difficult time.
“I’d encourage anyone to share the information being published on keeping safe, warm and secure with neighbours, elderly and vulnerable family and friends in particular.
“We’re making contact with residents as best we can but any help in spreading these messages is appreciated.
“We’ll continue to assist our residents and partners as long as is necessary. Members of other communities in Moray can play their part by remaining at home, apart from essential purposes, to allow resources to be concentrated on the Keith area just now.”
SGN is contacting those on their priority list to offer help and support.
Aberdeenshire Council response
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “An incident management team has been set up to support the Huntly community during this gas outage. We have identified vulnerable residents and are liaising with the gas network company SGN to ensure they are supplied with heaters and hot food.
“Meantime, we have installed temporary heaters at our sheltered housing schemes in Huntly and are in the process of delivering heaters to more than 500 council house tenants in the area.
“The Covid Assistance Hub has been contacting the most vulnerable and shielding households in the Huntly and Keith areas and linking them to the SGN teams.
“Our staff are also finalising preparations for a rest centre in Huntly should the need arise and further information on those arrangements will be shared in due course.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross and MSP Richard Lochhead have both contacted the gas company on behalf of their constituents.
Mr Ross said: “I am working with SGN and Moray Council to see what support can be offered to those affected.
“SGN has said it is contacting those on its priority list, which is a welcome step. There will undoubtedly be vulnerable people for whom the loss of heating will be more challenging.
“I have asked for updates throughout the day and will pass on any more information as and when I receive it.”
Huntly councillor Gwyneth Petrie also shared an update on her social media page:
Steve Chambers from Huntly has gone to extreme measures to ensure him and his dog stay warm.
He said: “I’ve had to take the duvet down and wrap myself and my eight-year-old dog up she’s been cold as well.
“I’ve had to resort to using my coolers hob rings and the oven door being open to warm up the kitchen and living room but as I stay in a big two-bedroomed house, the rest of the house is freezing.
“Doing that with the cooker has drained my electric which I’ve had to top up again due to lack of gas and central heating.”
He added: “I was told by the gas company that a engineer would be around to turn my mains off and bring me a portable radiator – I’ve been waiting indoors all day and still no sign of them yet.
“Being deaf has made things more difficult as I cannot make my own phone calls but luckily I’ve had others make calls for me and logged my complaint.”