- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

L’ANSE, Mich. (AP) - More than half of the 1,200 customers who lost natural gas service in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula after a car struck a gas line - rupturing it and causing an explosion - have had their service restored.

Crews with Semco Energy went door-to-door Saturday to get the heat back on in homes in Baraga County’s L’Anse area, northwest of Marquette.

More than 700 customers had gas service back by early afternoon. Schools and a bingo hall were being used as warming centers for people without heat.

A motorist drove his car off U.S. 41 early Friday morning, struck a gas line and caused a fire at a utility station in the L’Anse area near Lake Superior. There were no injuries.

“I think he fell asleep at the wheel,” Baraga County Emergency Manager Jeff Hubbard told the Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton. “He wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

The man was ticketed for careless driving, county Sheriff Rick Johnson said.

To restore gas service, valves at each address have to be shut off by utility workers. Workers then have to return to open the valves. About 40 more workers were heading to the L’Anse area from lower Michigan to help.

Crews have to get into homes to turn gas service back on and make sure appliances are working properly, SEMCO spokesman Tim Lubbers told WLUC-TV.

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