Gas line replacement underway in Merrimack Valley as residents get space heaters

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Teams are going door-to-door conducting safety inspections in the Merrimack Valley as work gets underway to replace damaged gas lines Monday following disastrous explosions and fires earlier this month.

Dozens of Columbia Gas and contracted construction teams will begin replacing the 48-mile, cast iron and bare steel distribution system with state-of-the-art infrastructure and safety features, according to a statement issued Thursday. This is expected to be completed by Nov. 19.

Hundreds of residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover remain without gas, leaving them in the cold as fall-like temperatures enter the area.

Officials plan to distribute 24,000 space heaters following the inspections of each affected home.

If they determine a house is unfit for a space heater, officials said they will find an alternative for the residents.

Over the weekend, the National Guard assisted in handing out 7,000 hot plates to customers who need them for cooking until gas service has been restored.

“It might get colder sooner than later, so these people, if they have the space heaters and stuff like that, they will stay warm,” Luis Ortiz, who was affected by the gas disaster, said.

On Wednesday, teams of licensed plumbers and electricians along with Columbia Gas representatives will be in the impacted neighborhoods to conduct assessments of appliances to see what needs to be replaced. Officials say those costs will be covered.

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