September 14, 2018
Residents remained evacuated from their homes Friday morning in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts after a number of natural gas-related explosions and fires were reported in three communities.
One man was killed as he sat in a car that was crushed by a falling chimney from a home that exploded, authorities say, and at least ten people have been hospitalized.
About 70 homes or buildings exploded and/or burned in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts State Police said at 10 pm Eastern Time Thursday night.
The areas are about 25 miles north of Downtown Boston.
Andover Fire Chief Mike Mansfield said Thursday night that he expects “this event” to continue for another week or more.
“This event is not over tonight.”
The possible cause is an over-pressurization of gas lines, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The supplier, Columbia Gas Company, had announced Thursday morning that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state — not specifically but including the Merrimack Valley.
Columbia is a division of Indiana-based NiSource.
Following the initial explosions, state police told residents of the area who receive gas service from Columbia to immediately evacuate their homes or buildings, the North Andover Eagle Tribune reported.
Gas lines were being depressurized all night, the company said.
The area’s electricity provider, National Grid, said Thursday it shut off power to areas affected by the fires.