02/27/2014 11:43 EST | Updated 04/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Greenstone declares state of emergency after natural gas outage

The municipality of Greenstone, located about 260 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., is declaring a state of emergency after Longlac and two nearby First Nations lost natural gas service this morning.

Mayor Renald Beaulieu said affected residents — which number close to 2,000 — are being asked to relocate to Geraldton.

Greenstone is an amagamated municipality made up for four townships: Nakina, Longlac, Geraldton and Beardmore.

“There's nowhere we can take 1,800 residents of the Longlac ward to because we're talking heat here,” Beaulieu said. “Most people do not have electric heat, so … those that will need it will be taken to the Geraldton ward here on their own, or they'll be bussed there.”

Beaulieu said evacuees will be taken to the high school in Geraldton.

"By 11 a.m., students in the schools will be taken out and brought to their homes,” he continued. “We're going to try to get everything as efficiently as possible because it is cold in Greenstone today."

He noted the community centre can't be used, because the ice surface is exposed.

A news release from the municipality advises people leaving their homes to leave a tap slowly running to avoid frozen water lines. The release also asks residents to shovel out around their gas metres to provide easy access to workers

Longlac residents who require transportation to Geraldton have been asked to phone 854-1100.

Union Gas hopes to relight appliances Thursday afternoon

Meanwhile, Union Gas says they're trying to resolve the loss of gas service to Longlac.

A spokesperson says a natural gas regulating station that serves the Longlac area had a loss in pressure as a result of weather conditions in the area.

David Sword said the company is trying to restore service as quickly as possible.

“We're going to have to re-pressurize the gas system and proceed to go door-to-door to customers' homes to safely relight all of their natural gas appliances and equipment,” he said.

Union Gas hopes to start the relighting of appliances late Thursday afternoon.

"We live here in the north and we know what the temperatures are like for people in those homes,” Sword said. “Our top priority right now … is to ensure the system remains safe and to restore natural gas services to customers as quickly as possible."