Outrage growing in north Denver neighborhood as hundreds go three days without natural gas

A natural gas outage in Denver’s Elyria Swansea neighborhood left hundreds of residents without hot water and some homes with no ability to cook for three days, and Xcel Energy does not know when the service will be restored.

The latest quality of life problem is putting people on edge after nearly two years of dealing with the Interstate 70 project.

Yadira Sanchez, who lives on Adams Street with her three children, said her family has not taken hot showers or cooked hot food on their gas stove since Wednesday.

“People in this area are done,” Sanchez said. “We are raw from where we have been dragged. It’s overwhelming.”

Communication from Xcel is poor, she said.

“They’re not letting everyone know what happened,” she said.

Xcel Energy spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo sent an emailed statement to The Denver Post on Friday night that said a main line was damaged Wednesday at Clayton Street and 48th Avenue. There is no estimated time for when gas will be restored in the neighborhood, she said.

About 700 customers have lost gas service. A command center is open at Lorraine Granado Park on Steele Street where residents can find answers to their questions, the statement said.

“In the meantime, we are providing services and ongoing communication to our impacted customers. We know it’s difficult to be without gas service and appreciate our customers’ patience during this time,” Aguayo wrote in the statement.

Aguayo said another company was working in the area when the damage occurred, but an investigation into how it happened won’t start until the repairs are made.

Travis Thompson, a spokesman for Denver Water, said that department’s crews repaired a service line leak Wednesday at a house on the 4800 block of Steele Street, but there was no indication that work had anything to do with the gas main break. Now water department workers are in the neighborhood to help Xcel crews identify water lines as they try to restore gas.

Sanchez and other neighbors said dozens of trucks are in the neighborhood, and multiple streets have been closed in the section of the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood that is north of I-70 as utility crews work on the gas lines.

Swansea residents have dealt with street closures related to the interstate project, and they said now it’s nearly impossible to navigate streets to even get out of the neighborhood.

“You drive, and you can’t get out. Every block is cut off,” resident Robin Reichhardt, who lives on St. Paul Street, said.

Xcel brought a taco truck to the neighborhood Thursday night to serve supper and again at lunch on Friday, Sanchez said. But Sanchez said the Friday line was long and people were standing for two hours in the heat to eat. Then the truck ran out of food, she said.

“At 1:30 people were still heading over there and standing in line to be told there was no more food,” Sanchez said. “That was it. That’s all they could do.”

The latest issue is putting residents at wits’ end because frustration is running high with the ongoing I-70 work, she said.

“This is insanity over here. There is no justification for what is going on in this area. We are not even getting treated like humans.”

Xcel asked customers to leave their homes if they smell sulfur or a rotten egg odor. If that happens, they should call 1-800-895-2999 or 911.