Fiorentini Shuts Off Columbia Gas to 20 Haverhill Homes After Local Fires, Explosions

(File photograph)

Firefighters from Haverhill and Methuen are offering mutual aid to Andover to help extinguish fires and explosions Thursday. (File photograph)

Crews from the Haverhill and Methuen Fire Departments, along with teams from Plaistow and Atkinson, N.H., have been dispatched to assist with the far-reaching Merrimack Valley fires and explosions that sprouted up in areas of Andover, North Andover and Lawrence late Thursday afternoon.

Columbia Gas, the company whose over-pressurized gas line led to the incident, services 20 homes on Haverhill’s Bradford Street. While the city at large is in no danger, Mayor James J. Fiorentini ordered an emergency shutdown of service to those homes as a precaution.

Service on the Haverhill MBTA line beyond North Wilmington is suspended, with passengers being diverted to Woburn. State Police have closed all Interstate 495 off-ramps from exits 41 to 45, with on-ramps remaining open for evacuation purposes.

Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick E. Keefe, and Fire Chief Michael Mansfield report that the town officials responded to and put out 35 fires–18 burning concurrently–across the area, with all blazes fully extinguished by 7 p.m. The Andover Senior Center and Andover Youth Center have been opened as emergency shelters with assistance being provided from the Red Cross.

At least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and two civilians. Power has been fully shut down in Andover as a precaution.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday night, Massachusetts State Police say their teams have responded to 70 related incident calls throughout the region.