Lawrence area residents get the all-clear to go home

Columbia Gas Just Released A Statement To The Public		
		by qcwriter

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.

The explosions killed Leonel Rondon, 18, while he sat in a vehicle in the driveway of a home in Lawrence, authorities said. Thousands were evacuated, and 18,000 people lost power at one point.

A new natural gas leak was reported in Lawrence, Mass., on Saturday morning, two days after explosions and fires rocked the city and other towns north of Boston.

All affected homes and buildings have been cleared of gas, Governor Charlie Baker said.

Citizens of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were evacuated on Thursday evening after homes serviced by Columbia Gas of MA were set on fire.

Crews are still working on gas lines, after explosions and fires broke out at almost 70 residences.

Sumwalt said the investigation is focused on high pressure in pipelines.

"The evacuations are in the thousands", Hall said Friday, adding he expects many residents were staying with friends and family in the surrounding area.

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Officials said gas company technicians will turn all the meters back after safety inspections of the entire system are complete - a process expected to take several weeks. "It makes us very thankful". Baker said New England-based Eversource would replace Columbia Gas of MA.

Andover town officials advised residents this morning to track all expense related to the incident carefully.

Jeff Hall, spokesman for the Red Cross, said Friday there were nearly 400 people shelters after the Thursday night explosions and fires.

"It's heartbreaking to see this devastation and this tragedy", he said. A chimney fell onto the auto, they said, when the home, on Chickering Road, exploded.

Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mansfield likened the scene to "Armageddon".

Columbia Gas is owned by NiSource, which serves almost 4 million natural gas and 500,000 electric customers across seven states.

Federal and state officials are investigating.

According to CBS Local, the gas company said their priority right now is the safety of their customers.

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