1,200 Michigan customers affected when natural gas line hit

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L'ANSE, Mich. (AP) — It could be a cold Christmas for more than 1,000 people in Michigan's Upper Peninsula after a vehicle struck a natural gas line early Friday, causing an explosion and fire in Baraga County.

The sheriff's office says a vehicle went off U.S. 41, struck a Semco Energy gas line and caused a fire at a utility substation in the L'Anse area on Lake Superior. There were no injuries.

The L'Anse Fire Department extinguished the fire, but gas service to about 1,200 gas customers in parts of the village and L'Anse Township will be disrupted for two to three days while repairs are made, Baraga County Sheriff Rick Johnson said.

Utility crews were going door to door to shut off gas at each home and business, a process that was estimated to take hours.

Semco crews also were working to repair the damage at the substation, the utility said. Semco crews from across Michigan were headed to L'Anse to assist with service restoration.

Warming centers were established at a Baraga school, Ojibwa Community College and the Big Bucks Bingo Hall. The National Weather Service predicted low temperatures in the 20s and 30s through Sunday night.

Space heaters were also distributed for people who preferred to stay home. At Baraga High School, district Superintendent Richard Sarau turned on Wi-Fi for people staying there.

"You know, it's tough enough that it happened during the holidays but, you know, if we can keep the young ones busy, keep their minds off of things and keep families working together and playing games and those kinds of things — it just makes it that much easier on everybody," Sarau said.

The Red Cross, members of law enforcement and a number of other health and emergency response teams will be on hand for those who may be in need of medical attention.

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