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Gas Leak Causes Early Morning Evacuations In Lawrence


A gas leak forced more than 100 Lawrence residents out of their homes early Friday morning, officials said.

Police say the affected area is along South Broadway between Andover and Merrimack streets. Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said the department responded to a call for a high pressure gas leak in the area at 3:15 a.m.

"The gas was traveling the sewers," Moriarty said. "We had explosive range gas in a number of different areas in the Salem and South Broadway area. The deputy immediately started striking multiple alarms to get mutual aid in here."

Mark Kempic, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, said the leak was from a new pipeline that was installed last year. The utility has shut off gas in the affected area to eliminate the immediate concern and will be going door-to-door to check that no gas has gotten inside homes, Kempic said.

The leak comes about a year after Lawrence and two other Merrimack Valley communities were rocked by a series of natural gas explosions and fires that killed one person and displaced thousands of others. This week, a report by the National Transportation Safety Report blamed Columbia Gas' “weak engineering management” and failure to use adequate protections as the cause of the explosions.

But as of about 7 a.m. Friday morning, Moriarty said the situation was stable.


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