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DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper has declared a disaster emergency due to a shortage of propane in Colorado.

On Monday afternoon, the governor issued a press release stating the shortage is impacting about 33,000 propane customers who primarily live in rural areas.

“These customers may not be able to receive enough propane to heat their homes in the near future,” the press release states.

Hickenlooper issued the verbal executive order shortly after 11 a.m. Monday due to propane production issues combined with the ongoing shortage and anticipated severe weather.

The executive order suspends hours-of-service regulations for intrastate commercial truck drivers. The regulations will be suspended until Jan. 8 at midnight.

According to the governor’s statement, a number of state agencies determined alongside the Colorado and New Mexico Propane Gas Associations that the shortage presents “a clear risk to populations dependent on propane for heating.”

Hickenlooper’s office said production issues in Colorado have forced the propane industry to seek supplies from outside the state. This has significantly increased the amount of time required to transport fuel.

“The propane industry attempted to address the issue with rationing and other means, however, propane shortages continue,” the release states.

In addition to the aforementioned temporary deregulation, the executive order states that those involved in transporting propane will prioritize safe practices. It also says that the suspension of regulations does not mean drivers are exempt from other Colorado road laws. Additionally, the order states that drivers are still prohibited from driving while ill or fatigued.

A winter storm system arriving midweek is expected to hit the rural parts of Colorado the hardest; portions of the eastern Plains could receive more than a foot of snow.