British Columbia

Pipeline explosion near Prince George, B.C., not criminal: RCMP

The smaller, 30-inch Enbridge pipeline was shut down as a precaution after the 36-inch line exploded in Shelley, northeast of Prince George.

British Columbians still asked to avoid 'non-essential' natural gas use; fuel prices could jump

A fireball rises from Shelley, B.C., a small community about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George, after a pipeline explosion on Tuesday. (@Dhruv7491/Twitter)

A natural gas explosion that shut down two pipelines and forced evacuations in northern B.C. is not criminal, the RCMP has found.

A statement said the investigation into Tuesday's explosion northeast of Prince George has been turned over to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

The 36-inch Enbridge line exploded in Shelley, B.C., at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. A second, smaller line was shut down as a precaution but has since reopened at 80 per cent capacity.

A bright, orange fireball from the explosion could be seen for kilometres and homes within the vicinity were evacuated as a precaution. Residents, who said the explosion sounded like thunder, were allowed to return about two hours later.

RCMP, Enbridge, and the National Energy Board will continue to help the TSB with its investigation.

Investigators are still searching for a cause of the blast.

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Supply still limited

FortisBC, the company that depends on the Enbridge line for about 85 per cent of the gas it delivers to its one million customers, has asked British Columbians to avoid any "non-essential" natural gas use in light of the explosion.

A statement said supply across the province will continue to be limited as the larger, damaged pipeline is still being repaired. 

Residents can conserve gas by turning down their thermostats, turning off fireplaces and reducing use of gas-powered hot water and cooking appliances.

Doug Stout, vice-president of market development with FortisBC, said the Lower Mainland could see a four to eight-cent jump in gas prices as a result of the possible shortage. 

Operations across several industries have been shut down to conserve energy:

  • Canfor, a forest products company, has temporarily closed two of its operations in Prince George.
  • Lantic Inc., a sugar refinery with operations in Vancouver, has been asked to cease operations.

RCMP said there was no damage to anything other than the pipeline and no one was injured. 

With files from Yvette Brend, Wil Fundal, Andrew Kurjata and Lien Yeung

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