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MA gas explosions reminiscent of 1992 Chicago incident

MA gas explosions reminiscent of 1992 Chicago incident

In the three MA communities rocked by a series of devastating gas fires and explosions, residents are running out of patience, with their fingers pointed at Columbia Gas.

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. 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. "There's oftentimes a tendency, when there are accidents like this, for a company to huddle down, to try to protect their shareholders when their one goal should be just to protect the people who they are serving".

Officials said it appeared Columbia Gas' pipeline control center in Columbus, Ohio, registered a pressure increase in the Lawrence area before the explosions.

The local utility in that area shut down all power in the three towns for the gas lines to be depressurized.

The NTSB, which is investigating because transportation - in this case, of natural gas - was involved, will look into system procedures, operations and safety culture at Columbia Gas and its parent company NiSource, as well as construct a timeline of events surrounding the fires.

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

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera blasted Columbia's response in a news conference Friday, saying the company was the "last to act" and accused the company of not wanting to "foot the bill". Baker said New England-based Eversource would replace Columbia Gas of MA.

At least 25 people were treated for injuries. Residents should contact authorities if they smell gas, or notice fire-related damage or anything odd with their gas appliances, he said. It makes them feel special that people out there care about us - that the Red Sox were taking cash donations at the games, that stuff is really great.

Sumwalt said NTSB investigators expect to be on site up to 10 days but a final report about what happened could take up to two years to complete. The governor and Columbia Gas of MA president Steve Bryant have quibbled over the utility's level of preparedness.

Officials, meanwhile, are also warning about donations scammers.