American Red Cross opens shelters in areas affected by explosions, fires

NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - The American Red Cross has set up shelters throughout the Merrimack Valley after gas explosions and fires displaced thousands of residents Thursday.

Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence were rocked by gas explosions and several fires around 5 p.m., drawing emergency responders from across the region to battle the between 60 and 80 fires that broke out almost simultaneously due to a situation involving the communities’ gas lines.

Shelters opened in several schools, which canceled classes Friday, as well as a youth center.

Available shelters:

  • Arlington School, 150 Arlington Street, Lawrence
  • Parthum School, 255 Haverhill Street, Lawrence
  • North Andover High School, 430 Osgood Street, North Andover
  • Cormier Youth Center, 40 Whittier Court, Andover

North Andover selectmen Dick Vaillancourt says about 85 people spent the night at North Andover High School.

“We had it separated. We had a family room, we had our main sleeping area here and on the far side we had folks with pets,” he explained.

Some residents say they would rather be in a shelter as opposed to stay in a hotel so they have easier access to the latest information.

“Information is here. The police is up there,” evacuated resident Clara Vajda said. “I had family (near) but I didn’t want to go.”

Revision Energy, a North Andover solar power company, set up a trailer so people can charge their cell phones and other electronic devices.

“These trailers go down to Puerto Rico so that people can have power down there,” Brittany Angelo, Revision Energy events and community outreach specialist, said. “We stopped the trailer from going down there and we brought it here so that people without power can come here, get the energy that they need to be able to connect with their loves ones.”

Restaurants including Bertucci’s are also supplying food to the shelters.

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