Columbia Gas the focus of 3 previous investigations following explosions, fires

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, the utility company at the center of a deadly gas emergency in the Merrimack Valley, has been the focus of three previous probes involving state utility investigators following explosions and fires.

Prior to Thursday’s incident, which left one person dead, dozens injured, and forced officials to turn off gas and power to Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence, the company was ordered to revise its protocols and procedures after a worker investigating the smell of gas at a Springfield strip club caused the building to explode, leaving 17 people injured.

That incident, which caused an estimated $1 million in damage, resulted in two enforcement actions against the company.

The company was also investigated after a single-family house in Easton went up in flames in 2007. Investigators determined that incident, which left seven people injured, was likely caused by a worker using a backhoe in the area.

In Attleboro in 2013, a mobile home burned to the ground and the cause of that fire was never determined.

Columbia Gas had announced earlier this week that they were working to replace lines in  Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

It’s unclear whether that work was to blame for the widespread destruction.

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