MA gas explosions: Residents allowed to return to homes

MA gas explosions: Residents allowed to return to homes

The explosions killed Leonel Rondon, 18, while he sat in a auto in the driveway of a home in Lawrence, authorities said. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate.

Gov. Charlie Baker of MA tweeted Sunday that police, firefighters and utility crews had "safely cleared" of gas thousands of homes in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

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. Electricity was restored to almost all homes and businesses, but gas service will remain shut off while officials continue investigating what caused Thursday's explosions and fires.

The National Transportation Safety Board, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Massachusetts Fire Marshal's office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the gas leaks and explosions.

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

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.

"We are very interested to understand the operations of Columbia Gas".

Charlie Baker Massachusetts Governor tours 35 Chickering St. where a young man was killed during yesterday's gas leak  fires today

Officials said that between 60 and 80 fires and a number of explosions broke out in homes and businesses in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. "I often say the people of the Commonwealth are resilient-and this devastating situation is no exception".

State investigators ruled in 2015 that Columbia Gas of OH was at fault in a serious explosion that left eight homes "uninhabitable" and damaged more than 20 others.

Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, one of the affected towns, said of the company, "It just seemed like there's no one in charge, like they're in the weeds, and they've never seen this before". Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the auto when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH.

Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mansfield likened the scene to "Armageddon". He died at a hospital, authorities said.

Columbia Gas of MA, which provides service in the affected communities, declined to comment on Sunday on what caused the leaks, saying federal investigators would decide.

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

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

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