UPDATE: More residents allowed back home; evacuations still in place for some

Update 2:38 p.m.
Authorities told evacuees this afternoon that some of them will be able to return to their homes today, while others will have to stay out at least one more day.

The evacuation order for homes on Seventh Street south of Mesa Avenue has been lifted. Homes facing Seventh Street between Orchard Avenue and Mesa Avenue, however, remain evacuated.

Anyone returning to their homes today needs to check in at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 730 Mesa Ave., prior to entering their home. Xcel Energy employees will go with them to turn on the gas and electricity and relight their pilot lights. Authorities say that for the next couple of weeks, anyone returning home should continue to monitor their toilets and drains, as part of the process for ventilating the gas out of the sewer system may affect the sewer lines in the house. If residents notice their toilets aren’t functioning properly, such as the water draining on its own or not refilling after being flushed, they should call 911. They should also call 911 if they smell any gas.

The evacuee hotline will be staffed until midnight tonight, then staffed again tomorrow beginning at 6 a.m. The number is 970-549-5130.

The next update for evacuees is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at the church.

Authorities this morning are asking residents who live along Seventh Street in the area evacuated by Tuesday’s house explosion and fire to report to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 730 Mesa Ave., as soon as possible to meet with an Xcel Energy representative and a Grand Junction firefighter.

Together, they will enter the homes one by one to check inside. Residents will also have roughly five minutes to gather any necessary items, according to a news release issued this morning.

Homes along Seventh Street between Orchard and Elm avenues remain evacuated as there are still pockets of gas in the soil and sewer systems that make it unsafe for residents to return home.

Any evacuated residents who need transportation assistance can call the evacuee hotline and a shuttle will be sent to pick them up. The hotline is 970-549-5130.

Additional specialized Xcel equipment is expected to arrive early this afternoon to help purge the gas underneath the street. Gas readings in the area improved overnight but are not yet at a safe level. This morning’s rain didn’t help ventilation efforts, as the wet soil makes it more difficult for the gas to dissipate, authorities said.

The next evacuee update is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Officials are expected to let residents know at that briefing if they will be allowed to return home this evening. Evacuees who haven’t signed up with the Red Cross for a hotel room can do so by coming to the church.


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