NECC Closed, Haverhill MBTA Line Diverted Amid Explosions, Fires

(File photograph.)

Friday’s commute and day-to-day activities are impacted in the wake of the local gas explosions. (File photograph)

As thousands of Merrimack Valley residents remain without power in the wake of the area’s gas explosions, travel and day-to-day activities have been severely impacted in surrounding communities.

While some Andover residents were able to return to their homes overnight, schools and town offices in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence remain closed Friday. Shelters have been set up with the support of the Red Cross in impacted communities while Columbia Gas works to attend to each of the 8,600 affected homes to manually shut off each meter and perform safety checks.

Under an emergency order from Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Columbia Gas service to customers on Haverhill’s Bradford Street was shut down as a precaution. There is no threat to the city at large, Fiorentini said.

In a late night press conference, Gov. Charlie Baker hesitated to offer a timeline for restoration, but deemed preliminary efforts “adequate.”

Northern Essex Community College closed both campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence Friday, encouraging students in need to visit Haverhill’s Behrakis Student Center for support services.

Haverhill’s MBTA commuter rail line remains diverted Friday, with bus service running from the Haverhill and Bradford stations to bring riders to the Anderson/Woburn station to pick up inbound service on the Lowell line. Parking there is free on Friday. Alternate service on the Lowell or Newburyport lines is recommended.

On the roads, I-495 off-ramps from exits 41-44 north and southbound, along with I-93’s exit 45, remain closed.

Claiming the life of an 18-year-old Lawrence man, Thursday’s explosions and fires sent 10 patients to Holy Family Hospital. Two civilians and one firefighter in Andover were also injured, Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan said.