Published: Mon, September 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Vt. Gas says systems in place to prevent situation like Mass. explosions

Vt. Gas says systems in place to prevent situation like Mass. explosions

It is now safe for thousands of MA residents to return to their homes, authorities said, three days after gas leaks touched off a series of surprise explosions and fires that killed one and injured more than 20 others.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed inside a auto in the town of Lawrence when a chimney fell on his vehicle from a house explosion, a spokeswoman with the Essex County District Attorney's office said. "There will be 120 representatives from the utilities out in neighborhoods in the three communities to assist with any questions people may have as they return home".

In the Merrimack Valley, most displaced residents are able to return to their homes Sunday morning, after Thursday's series of natural gas explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials announced the move at a morning news conference and said electricity was restored to almost all affected homes and businesses in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover.

It appeared yesterday that faulty pressure in the Columbia Gas mains may have caused the explosions, which set 60 houses alight in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence, north of Boston, on Thursday.

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He said 8,600 gas meters in the area had been shut off and thanked residents for their patience.

The National Transportation Safety Board, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Massachusetts Fire Marshal's office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the gas leaks and explosions. All homes should have power restored by later in the morning, he said.

Sumwalt said they will work to determine a cause for the incident and issue a preliminary report, but that a full detailed report on the exact cause may not be complete for up to two years. "It makes us very thankful".

The governor said he made a decision to declare a state of emergency after he spoke with state and local officials, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. "I often say the people of the Commonwealth are resilient-and this devastating situation is no exception".

Columbia Gas has released a statement - almost five hours after the initial explosion occurred.

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"It's heartbreaking to see this devastation and this tragedy", he said. He died at a hospital, authorities said.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed after a chimney that had been blown off a home in one of the explosions struck a auto in Lawrence, CNN affiliate WHDH reported.

NiSource is one of the largest natural gas utilities in the United States, serving more than 3.4 million customers in seven states, according to its website.

Federal and state officials are investigating.

Do not attempt to use any gas appliances until gas service has been safely restored by the gas company.

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