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Many people displaced by the Boston-area gas explosions can return home on Sunday, governor says

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker addresses a gathering at the Statehouse in Boston, 27 July, 2017.

(Associated Press)

Many suburb of Boston residents who were forced from their homes Thursday after gas explosions and fires killed one person and injured at least 25 should be able to return Sunday morning, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Saturday.

Technicians and fire department personnel were the exit of gas meters and the carrying out of inspections, so that residents can go back home and have electricity restored beginning at 7 p.m., the governor said in a series of Twitter messages.

The work will continue on the assessment of the damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in Lawrence, andover and North Andover, Baker wrote.

The people of #Lawrence, #Andover and #NorthAndover are incredibly supportive of one another. I thank you all for your patience + support if the crews get out there and do this work. And once again, I thank you for our first responders that stepped up to answer the call of duty.

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) September 16, 2018

“None of this work is simple and requires large numbers of staff to work together,” he added, while the residents thank them for their patience and area first responders for their help.

FILE: AN employee with Columbia Gas pries the manhole cover open as they work to ensure that there are no gas leaks on the corner of Parker and Salem Streets in Lawrence, Mass.

(AP)

On Friday, Baker, a Republican in a strongly Democratic state, a state of emergency for three cities and a company called Eversource in the cost of repairs instead of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, the utility that serves the area.

‘Big problems’

On Saturday, Baker said at a press conference that Columbia Gas was just too slow to respond to the crisis, and that ” the major problems in our mind, about the leadership team the ability to deliver,” the Boston Herald reported.

Investors have apparently lost confidence, as the Columbia Gas parent NiSource saw its shares decline by 11.8 percent on Friday, its worst day since 2001, CNBC reported.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Saturday that NiSource units are linked to the three previous gas explosion incidents — in Boston, Mass., and Sissonville, W. Va., both in 2012 and in Upper Arlington, Ohio, in 2015.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tours the site where an 18-year-old man was killed during a gas explosion in Lawrence, Mass., Sept. 14, 2018.

(Associated Press)

In Lawrence, crews were still working on Saturday to shut off gas meter and restore the electricity, the Boston Globe. The explosions, which, from the scores from fire, affected about 8,600 homes and businesses, and permanently moved about a dozen families in Lawrence, according to the paper.

Baker had ordered residents to stay away from their homes while officials checked houses and business for natural gas traces. He urged returning residents to be careful, and the 911 when they smelled gas.

A report of a strong gas smell Saturday morning brought the officials back to a part of Lawrence most affected by the explosions and fires. Firefighters and gas workers, open manholes, tested gas levels and tried to access the businesses on the city with the south, but the situation was usually recorded after 11 pm

Cause remains unknown

Still, the official cause of the explosion remained unknown, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

“We are not here on the scene to determine the probable cause,” Sumwalt said. “That will take place at a later time.” He said NTSB investigators expected at the site for up to 10 days, but a final report on what happened could take up to two years to complete.

Late Saturday, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., tweeted: “We have a minute account of what happened before and during the #MVGasFire” – “MV” and refers to the Merrimack Valley, the region consists of the communities affected by the explosion.

USA. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said the Herald, that a human error is to blame. “This is not something that should happen in 2018. Houses were literally blowing up. I was told by someone that overpressure of the gas line – and not by a little to blame.”

Sumwalt said the Columbia Gas pipeline controller in Columbus, Ohio, reported an increase of the pressure in the areas affected by Thursday’s explosion. He said a review of the management of the auditor of the procedures for handling such events is in treatment. So far, the evidence does not indicate a “criminal behavior” Sumwalt said.

Sumwalt said the NTSB will the pipeline controller pressure regulators that control the flow of gas to the Merrimack Valley as well as the records for up to three weeks before the explosion, the Globe.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

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