The aftermath of a Gas Explosion

Posted on September 17, 2018 by

Living in the Merrimack Valley in northeastern Massachusetts for all of my life, it was a personal shock last Thursday afternoon when I received a “robocall” from my local police department to evacuate m home.

At first I thought it was one of those annoying calls that I receive talking about credit cards but my instincts made me think twice, and I called my neighbor who told me to turn on local news.

What I saw made me gasp, houses and apartment complexes exploding in three communities, Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

I ran outside and saw my neighbors in the same sense of bewilderment as I was. What should we do? Go back inside our homes, shut the gas, go to the shelter? It was scary. Starting a car in the garage could be dangerous, no one had answers, all we knew was that something terrible was happening and we needed a plan. But what?

A neighbor found a way to shut the gas on Youtube, but then there was the lingering question of what to do and where to go. We all had to make decisions and make them quickly, no one wants another exploding house.

Our local gas company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts was closed for the day, the police weren’t answering the business line.

Eventually, the neighbors went back inside their homes, including me, We watched the newsreel over and over of fires and news crews staging in the two towns and one city reporting and trying to give us answers.

I packed suitcases, put them by the door in case I smelled gas, and had dinner which was already prepared. I could hardly eat. There was one casualty, a young man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and had a chimney from an exploding house fall on his car. There were multiple injuries and many homes and businesses were either destroyed or heavily damaged.

The local officials including Governor Charlie Baker gave press conferences and continue to do so. There was and may still be a state of emergency since Columbia Gas did nothing when the situation was unfolding.

Over the weekend, most local businesses were closed because electricity was shut-off and those residents not cleared to be in their homes were at shelters or at friends or family members.

Yesterday, many homes and businesses got the “all-clear”. Most had electricity, many did not have gas and won’t for many weeks.

Grocery stores were packed with people restocking their refrigerators. Some stores had signs apologizing for not having their usual selection due to power outages.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the young man killed, the injured and those that have lost their homes and possessions. Thank you for Governor Charlie Baker, local officials, first responders, fire and police who helped all of us.

Thank you.

Susan Reef, President, US Food Safety.

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Posted in: Family safety