Massachusetts Residents Return Home After Deadly Gas Explosions

Citizens of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover who evacuated Thursday return home after roughly 80 buildings were impacted by the deadly explosions.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency gave residents of three cities the all clear to return home on Sunday after a series of gas explosions set the area ablaze.

Citizens of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were evacuated on Thursday evening after homes serviced by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts were set on fire. Roughly 80 buildings were impacted by explosions that killed a teenager and injured at least 25 people.

MEMA released a statement Sunday morning announcing those displaced by the emergency could safely return home while officials work to restore gas and electric services.

“State and local public safety partners and utility companies continue to work on accessing and clearing the small percentage of remaining homes with outstanding issues and will be available to assist residents this morning,” the agency’s statement read.

MEMA urged residents returning home not to attempt to turn on gas meters without a technician and to immediately vacate if they smell gas.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on Friday and authorized an another utility company, Eversource Energy, “to take management control over the coordinated effort to safely restore utility services.”

Columbia Gas, owned by NiSource Inc., has been linked to previous accidents in other states, The Boston Globe reported Friday.

State investigators ruled in 2015 that Columbia Gas of Ohio was at fault in a serious explosion that left eight homes “uninhabitable” and damaged more than 20 others. In 2014, another NiSource company was accused by the National Transportation Safety Board of being at fault for a deadly pipeline rupture in West Virginia for failing to replace the corroded structure before it exploded, according to the Globe.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the Massachusetts explosions.

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