ANDOVER (CBS) — Columbia Gas was forced to postpone their work on venting the natural gas system in Andover and North Andover Tuesday due to expected rain. Instead, the gas company plans to vent on Wednesday.

“This is a routine and safe procedure to ensure any residual gas is removed from the natural gas lines prior to crews beginning work. Venting will occur throughout the restoration process,” Columbia Gas wrote on Facebook.

Columbia Gas warned residents that they may smell gas or hear loud noises during the venting. First responders and utility crews will be out in the street and it could affect traffic. “If you ever suspect a leak, stop what you’re doing, leave the area and call 911 and Columbia Gas from a safe place.”

The impacted areas in Andover will be the intersection of Essex and Brook Streets, the intersection of Phillips and Main Streets, and the intersection of Elm and Pine Streets.

The impacted area in North Andover is the intersection of Chickering, Pleasant and Russell Streets.

On Tuesday, Andover and North Andover residents can also begin scheduling an electrical assessment for their home to determine whether it is safe for a space heater. If the home passes the inspection, Columbia Gas will provide one space heater. Call 1-855-218-8816 between 8 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday to schedule an appointment.

Columbia Gas is working to find an accurate number of homes that are not suitable for space heaters before they provide a heating solution in those homes.

The National Guard and volunteers are passing out space heaters to residents in the Merrimack Valley without gas (WBZ-TV | Lisa Gresci)

The National Guard went door-to-door in Lawrence to deliver space heaters Monday, and over the weekend, they did the same with hot plates.

Andover temporarily ran out of hot plates, so residents are encouraged to call Columbia Gas to be put on a waiting list. Hot plates in Lawrence can be picked up at the Property Claims Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield gave safety tips for hot plate use after a fire Monday night: keep a one-foot radius all around your hot plate when cooking with it, never put out a grease fire with water, always keep a cover for your pan ready so that you can cover it should the oil overheat.

A kitchen fire on Main Street in Andover Monday was caused by a woman using a hot plate. According to Mansfield, the fire was not caused by the hot plate. It started because some grease in a pan being cooked on a hot plate overheated. The woman cooking was able to extinguish the fire by throwing the pan outside.

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