‘Major’ Gas Leak in Lawrence Evacuates 146 Homes Friday

Gov. Charlie Baker (third from left) joined local leaders from Andover, Lawrence and North Andover during a press conference in the wake of the September 2018 explosions and fires across the Merrimack Valley. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

A Columbia Gas leak described by officials as “major” in Lawrence’s South Broadway area forced the evacuation of residents in 146 homes in the early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 27, that city’s Mayor Dan Rivera confirmed. Power and gas have been shut off in the affected area, which covers Andover to Merrimack Streets and Sanborn to Parker Streets.

Rivera said the incident is an isolated “Level 1 gas leak,” the most serious classification, and requires immediate repair and attention. Columbia Gas said this was not an over-pressurization situation like the one that caused the gas-related fire disaster of Sept. 13, 2018.

The leak occurred around 3:12 a.m. near Broadway and Salem Street and Columbia Gas crews were on scene within 15 minutes, Columbia Gas President Mark Kempic said. Kempic does not believe crews were working in the area when the leak occurred, but could not confirm when a crew was last there.

While Lawrence Public Schools remained open Friday, Lawrence Catholic Academy and the Wetherbee School are closed, Rivera said.

A Red Cross emergency shelter is set up at 150 Arlington St. Methuen’s Nevins Farm is open and taking pets for residents who call 978-687-7453.

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