“A series of gas explosions an official described as “Armageddon” killed a teenager, injured at least 10 other people and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas.”, according to an Associated Press (AP) article carried by masslive.com.
“Authorities said Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his car. He was rushed to a Boston hospital but pronounced dead there in the evening.”
“Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggled to understand what was happening’, says the AP story.
“It looked like Armageddon, it really did,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters. “There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover.” To read the entire AP Story go to: https://apnews.com/9930dc6f2b254b6481ed75cc98008e56
[Separately, subsequent stories by masslive.com and the Wall Street Journal put the number of injuries at 25 or more and the number of structures involved at 60 to 80.]
“A day after a gas utility’s pipeline triggered dozens of fires that killed one person and injured nearly 25, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and directed another company to take over the restoration work”, according to a separate story published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
“Federal and state investigators were trying to determine what caused more than 60 fires and explosions on Thursday afternoon, turning three suburban communities into a scene that a local fire chief said “looked like Armageddon.”
“Preliminary indications were that too much natural gas was pumped into a five-mile section of pipe owned by Columbia Gas, causing the combustible fuel to leak into homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.” To read the entire WSJ Article, go to: https://www.wsj.com/articles/officials-probe-fires-explosions-that-damaged-dozens-of-homes-near-boston-1536933528
“The natural gas company whose fuel lines caused a deadly wave of fires and explosions in the Merrimack Valley on Thursday has been fined $100,000 by state regulators over the last eight years”; say a Story published by masslive.com.
“The violations by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts include failing to follow safety procedures while repairing a leak, puncturing a gas line and improper pressure testing, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities said Friday.”
“Fires and blasts erupted across Andover, North Andover and Lawrence Thursday afternoon, sparking a massive emergency response, injuring more than two dozen people and killing 18-year-old Lawrence resident Leonel Rondon”; says masslive.com.
“It was the largest gas pipeline accident in the United States since 2010, according to Reuters, and sparked a demand for answers from residents and public officials that Columbia Gas has so far failed to provide. The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation.”
“Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera slammed the company as the "least informed" and "last to act" at a press conference Friday, and Gov. Charlie Baker stripped Columbia of control of the response after declaring a state of emergency”: to read the entire masslive.com story go to: https://www.masslive.com/news/boston/index.ssf/2018/09/company_at_center_of_merrimack.html
In a statement, Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser, expressed his condolences to the victim’s families and praised first responders:
“In light of yesterday’s tragic events in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, I am calling on the Department of Public Utilities to conduct a statewide investigation of Columbia Gas operations, including an immediate plan for fixing the hundreds of gas leaks already known and identified across our Commonwealth, “ Lesser said.
“Until that investigation and plan is complete, there must be a halt of new permitting and construction, including the proposed Longmeadow metering station.”
“Unfortunately, our region has seen the devastating pacts of gas leaks. Springfield experienced an explosion as recently as 2012 that caused widespread damage.” Lesser was referring to the explosion on Worthington Street that year.
“It shouldn’t take a tragedy to force action, Columbia Gas has a moral obligation to protect the public and to fix their infrastructure.” Senator Lesser’s Statement can be viewed at: http://senatorlesser.com/2018/09/14/statement-senator-eric-p-lesser-regarding-columbia-gas-explosions-merrimack-valley/#prettyPhoto/0/
“Gas explosions have claimed lives and destroyed property around the U.S. in recent years [says the AP]:
“A buildup of natural gas triggered an explosion and fire that killed seven people in apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2016.”
“In 2014, a gas explosion in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood killed eight people and injured about 50. Consolidated Edison later agreed to pay $153 million to settle charges after the state’s Public Service Commission found Con Ed violated state safety regulations. A gas leak had been reported before that blast;” according to the AP Story.
“A 2011 natural gas explosion killed five people in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and that state’s largest gas utility was fined by regulators who called the company’s safety record “downright alarming.”
“In September 2010, a Pacific Gas and Electric gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.” For the full story, go to: https://apnews.com/9930dc6f2b254b6481ed75cc98008e56
The Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association also issued a Press Release following the explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley.