NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Gas service has been restored for most of the 340 National Grid customers in Middletown who lost it earlier this week but it’s expected to be several more days before the thousands of affected homes and businesses in Newport are back online.

Terry Sobolewski, National Grid’s senior vice president and chief customer officer, announced that 301 customers in Middletown had been re-lit as of late Thursday morning.

In the meantime, efforts still continue in Newport to turn off all the gas meters in the affected area, which must be completed before they can reintroduce gas into the system. According to National Grid, about 6,500 customers are without service in Newport.

Sobolewski said they have approximately 150 meters left to shut off, but those are inside places where they’ve had trouble gaining entry. The pace of the work has slowed since in these cases, crews and local police have had to enlist the help of a locksmith to get inside and shut off the meters.

Sobolewski encouraged the households that have not yet been shut off to leave a light on when it’s a good time for National Grid to enter and conduct their business. He advised against leaving a note on the door, for safety reasons.

Residents can also call 1-800-870-1664 to set up a time to meet a technician at their home. Learn more »

Once all the meters are shut off, it will take about seven hours to repressurize the system, according to Sobolewski. Then, crews will again have to go door-to-door to re-light everyone’s pilot lights, which alone could take days.

According to Sobolewski, they expect to repressurize the system on Saturday. Once the line is repressurized, National Grid will begin the re-lighting process, starting with “critical customers” including schools and nursing homes.

Sobolewski reiterated that the re-lighting process must be completed by a trained technician and implored residents to not try and turn their gas on or off themselves.

A dramatic drop in pressure on Monday forced the utility company to suspend service to the lower portion of the island. National Grid estimated more than 10,000 people were affected by the outage at its peak.

Rooms for affected customers are still available at area hotels, which National Grid will cover the cost of, along with transportation, if necessary. Those seeking more information on emergency food and shelter should call 211 or stop by National Grid’s 24-hour customer service center, located at Gurney’s Newport Resort on Goat Island, or at the warming center at Gaudet Middle School.

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For the people who are toughing it out at home, Sobolewski said they will have to pay for the electricity bill incurred through the use of space heaters. He also urged those households to make sure their homes can handle the electric load of those heaters.

Newport Public Schools are closed for the remainder of the week, and the RI Judiciary announced the Murray Judicial Complex will be closed Friday.