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Gas leak sparks new fears in traumatized Lawrence

by Stefan Geller, Boston Herald

A major gas leak in Lawrence forced hundreds of residents out of their homes early Friday morning with nothing but the clothes on their backs — and revived the fears of people who lived through last year’s explosions.

“Everybody is freaking out, like, ‘this is happening again?’” Franklin Francisco told the Herald. “My wife was there last year and she saw the explosions and everything. We have friends that lost their homes. So it’s very scary.”

“As soon as they said gas leak my anxiety hit the roof,” said Lorie Martin. “Last year when this happened, I went four months with no heat, no hot water, no nothing. And now they’re banging on doors and we’re starting all over again.”

She was among nearly 300 residents sent to the shelter at Arlington Middle School throughout the day after she was woken up at 4 a.m. by firefighters knocking on her door, telling her and her family that they needed to evacuate immediately.

The area that was impacted by the leak was serviced by Columbia Gas, the same company involved in the Merrimack Valley gas line explosions on Sept. 13, 2018. In a joint statement last night, the state, Columbia Gas and the City of Lawrence said contractors checking water valves ahead of a road paving job “inadvertently closed a gas valve, puncturing an active gas main.”

By 2 p.m., city officials said they had eliminated the risk to the residents and called the leak an isolated incident.

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