No evidence MA gas blasts were intentional, investigator says

ANDOVER MA- SEPTEMBER 14 Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield stands in the control room watching the monitors at the Andover Fire station

ANDOVER MA- SEPTEMBER 14 Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield stands in the control room watching the monitors at the Andover Fire station

Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover residents who hadn't been able to return home after Thursday's string of fires and gas explosions can now go back, state officials said early Sunday.

In Chicago in January 1992, a surge of gas was the cause of at least 10 fires and explosions, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. Baker said New England-based Eversource would replace Columbia Gas of MA.

Lawrence, Andover and North Andover - the three towns impacted by Thursday's blasts - were listed as areas where neighborhood lines would be replaced, the utility said on its website.

All affected homes and buildings have been cleared of gas, Governor Charlie Baker said. NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said he couldn't provide any details on Saturday's leak.

Some 60 homes and businesses north of Boston in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover experienced explosions and fires.


The entirety of South Lawrence is still under an evacuation warning, Mayor Dan Rivera said Friday morning. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced they were investigating the company.

Steve Bryant, president of NiSource's Columbia Gas unit, apologized for Thursday's incident, saying it was "the sort of thing that a gas distribution company hopes never happens". Thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

"Utility technicians must do their jobs in order to make sure everyone has a safe place to return to", Baker said. Thirteen people were treated at Lawrence General Hospital for injuries, officials said.

Leonel Rondon, an 18-year-old from Lawrence, died after an explosion sent a chimney crashing into his auto, the Associated Press reported.

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.

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