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Gas Leak Reported in City Affected by Deadly Explosions Last Year

by NBC NewsCenter Maine

"Just because the affected area is smaller, does not mean that this is less dangerous or less impactful," Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes and two schools were closed Friday morning in Lawrence, Massachusetts, as authorities and Columbia Gas responded to a gas leak in an area rocked by gas explosions and fires a year ago.

"People must evacuate," Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said on Twitter, calling the event a level one gas leak.

Authorities were going door to door to tell people to evacuate the area, and Columbia Gas workers were checking to make sure gas had not leaked into homes. Gas and power were shut off in the impacted area amid an investigation into the cause of the leak.

"The amount of frustration to get woken up at four, 4:30 in the morning and to have to go through this again, it’s just something that should have not happened," Sen. Barry Finegold said Friday at a press conference. "It makes us all very frustrated”

Mark Kempic, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, said that while the cause of the leak was unclear, it involved a new line installed following the disastrous gas explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley last year.

MEMA called the incident a "major gas leak leading to evacuations," MassDOT official Jacquelyn Goddard said.


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