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Local fuel company works to fulfill deliveries during storm, colder temperatures

Randy Richards, area manager of Daigle Oil Company’s Presque Isle and Caribou offices, said on Thursday afternoon that his crew is prepared to make as many deliveries as possible during the next few days despite a major winter storm and incoming sub-zero temperatures.

For the past two weeks, drivers in the Presque Isle and Caribou area have arrived to work at 5 a.m. and worked extensively at night and during weekends and holidays to ensure that customers get their heating oil and propane tanks refilled in order to heat their homes throughout any extreme weather trend. Richards guessed that the company’s number of deliveries per day has likely doubled within that same period.

“I had one driver recently who left church early on Sunday to deliver fuel. That’s dedication right there,” Richards said from his Presque Isle office, as the wind swiftly picked up speed outside and snow blew hard across the parking lot. “We’re doing whatever we need to do to make sure our customers are taken care of and that we keep our drivers safe.”

Despite receiving a large increase in calls from customers requesting deliveries, Richards noted that his drivers are only a day or two behind and expected that they would be caught up by the weekend. Even if they do not reach that goal, he said that drivers will continue to deliver and strive to return to their normal schedule.

Richards also emphasized that DOC takes the safety of its drivers seriously and trusts them to judge whether the snowy, often icy northern Maine roads are safe enough to travel.

“Our preference is to have the drivers out during the daytime, so the limited daylight presents another challenge,” Richards said. “Their safety is extremely important to us and we usually rely on whether they feel comfortable driving on the roads.”

In preparation for home deliveries, Richards recommended that homeowners clear a path to their fuel tank to allow drivers full access.  He suggested people use caution when clearing snow off their roofs, as the snow can fall onto and completely cover the fuel pipe and prevent drivers from seeing the pipe.

If customers know that they will not be home during extreme weather, Richards recommended that they have a neighbor look after their fuel tanks or install a monitoring device that will alert DOC by phone or email if their tanks drop below a functional temperature. He said that when away, residents should set their homes’ temperature to 50 or 55 degrees so that their water and heat pipes do not freeze.

Even if customers receive automatic fuel deliveries, Richards said that they should check the oil or propane levels in their tank before a major storm or anticipated period of very low temperatures to ensure that their home remains heated.  Anyone who does need a refill during the weekend can expect a service technician to come to their home after hours, but they might have to wait for an uncertain amount of time if their fuel levels are not dangerously low.

“If there’s an emergency and your tank is very low, a technician will come after hours as soon as they can and give you 10 gallons so that your tank can make it until morning and until they can come again,” Richards said.  

According to the DOC website, customers can call the emergency number at 1-800-794-4362 for assistance.  The site recommends that people don’t get discouraged if they cannot reach a technician with their first call, as staff members have been busier than normal in answering delivery calls.  

Customers should also, “Know the day we are in your area and call us at least 48 hours ahead so we can plan for your delivery” and check their tank gauges often to avoid a shortage in heating fuel.  

For more information, customers can view the “Extreme Cold Alert” at DOC’s website:

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