Thousands of Aspen, Colo. residents and businesses are without heat or hot water amid freezing temperatures due to an attack on gas service lines over the weekend.
The FBI and local police are investigating what they say appears to be an “intentional attack” on the town’s gas service lines, Aspen Times reported. Officials discovered vandalism at three different gas line sites, in which environmental group messaging was found written on the pipes.
Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said the perpetrators “have some familiarity” with the gas line system. “They tampered with flow lines. They turned off gas lines,” he explained.
The words “Earth First!” were found written on the vandalized gas pipes. The words are the name of an international environmental advocacy group.
The city of Aspen has been handing out thousands of space heaters to residents who are without heat while technicians from the local gas company, Black Hills Energy, attempt to restore the gas service.
“Technicians from Black Hills Energy worked throughout the night to purge and re-pressurize Aspen’s natural gas system. At 7:30 a.m. this morning, technicians began the relighting process. This will continue for residential properties throughout today until 11 p.m. tonight and will begin again in the morning until all homes have been serviced,” the Aspen Police Department said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
At least 160 Black Hills Energy technicians are in the process of visiting each of the 3,500 affected gas meters in the town, and taking purge and re-pressurizing procedures to restore the system.
🔺 11:16 a.m. Technicians are working in a grid pattern in order to move efficiently and restore gas service to as many…Posted by Black Hills Energy on Tuesday, December 29, 2020
The Earth First! environmental group was created in 1980 and was identified as perpetrating a 1991 sabotage attack on the Telluride Ski Resort in Mountain Village, Colo. where the suspects left behind “Earth First!” messaging amid the vandalism.