Postings suggest Southwest Gas had supply warning prior to Tucson outage

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The gas outage hit seemingly without warning early Thursday morning as Tucson hit record low temps and demand for gas was high.

But how much warning did Southwest Gas have that resources would be strained.

On-line notices from its distributor prove the warning was there.

El Paso Natural Gas is the supplier for several companies including Southwest Gas.

In an E-mail to Fox 11 news, the El Paso gas media relations manager says it had continuous contact with Southwest Gas and other customers about demand needs during the cold snap.

And on its website, these warnings were posted starting at 11:51 A.M. February 2, the day before the widespread outage in Tucson.

On its declaration of emergency critical operating condition, it notes supply shortfalls caused by extreme cold temperatures.

El Paso gas stated it did not expect conditions to improve over the following 24 hours.

Despite that, Southwest Gas did not issue a warning to its customers in Southern Arizona to conserve until after several thousand customers had supplies knocked out.

The first media release on Southwest Gas' website is dated February 3, the day of the outage.

The Southwest Gas Media Relations Director for Southern Arizona says she was not aware of the El Paso Natural Gas company warnings, and is following up for Fox 11 News with Southwest Gas' supply employees based in Nevada.

The Arizona corporation commission now wants look into what caused the outages, from the two companies involved.

Gary Pierce, chair of the ACC, has written Southwest Gas and El Paso natural gas company a letter telling them he will schedule a meeting in the next few weeks to let them explain what happened.

Both companies appeared before the commission in October and assured them gas supplies were adequate for the winter.