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Residents allowed to return home following Massachusetts gas explosions, says governor

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

(Associated Press)

Residents evacuated from their homes in three suburbs of Massachusetts cities and towns were allowed to return following Thursday’s gas explosions and fires that killed one person and injured at least 25, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Sunday.

Residents in North Andover, andover and Lawrence were cleared to return to their homes as of 7 a.m. on Sunday. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said in a news release that the workers have cleared nearly 8,600 metres that were affected, the homes of the gas and electricity restored.

“We still have a long way to go, but I’m so glad that people are able to return to the house in the morning [Sunday]. There are 120 representatives of the utilities in neighborhoods in the three communities to help with any questions people may have when they return home,” Baker tweeted.

We still have a long way to go, but I’m so glad that people are able to return to the house in the morning. There are 120 representatives of the utilities in neighborhoods in the three communities to help with any questions people may have when they return home.

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) September 16, 2018

If people are home, we ask that they are vigilant and take note of any damage that may have occurred.
> If you notice that a fire-related damage to the equipment or gas-fired heating systems: Call 911.
> If you smell gas: Call 911.

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) September 16, 2018

“The explosions have brought heartbreak for many families and the loss of a young life,” Baker said. “After some time, a visit to shelters and the local hospital, it is clear that the residents of the Merrimack Valley and Massachusetts have come together to support.”

Power for all the inhabitants should be restored shortly after returning to their homes. Two phases are still in the recovery operation.

“Phase 2 will consist of the assessment of the damage to the low-pressure gas system, and Phase 3 will consist of technicians will inspect each part of the equipment of the meter, where gas enters a building, the equipment for a building that has gas to distribute to all devices,” the governor said.

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.

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)

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.

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 urged the return of 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 is to blame,” Moulton said.

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.

Fox News’ Katherine Lamb, and 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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