Residents displaced by Merrimack Valley gas disaster expected to return home Sunday

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - The thousands of Merrimack Valley residents who remain displaced as a result of Thursday’s gas disaster should be able to return home after 7 a.m. Sunday, Gov. Charlie Baker said.

Firefighters, police officers, and utility crews have been going door-to-door to turn off gas at more than 8,000 homes in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence that had Columbia Gas service in the wake of a series of fires and explosions that left dozens of people displaced and an 18-year-old Lawrence man dead.

Residents returning to their homes are asked to be vigilant. If they smell gas or smoke, notice damage to gas appliances, or other potential emergency situations, they should step outside and call 911.

They should also ensure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.

Fed up with Columbia Gas’ ability to put together a response plan that would return residents to their home, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on Friday and put Eversource in charge of the restoration effort.

Thousands of residents have been living in emergency shelters in the three communities since Thursday night, when they were ordered to evacuate their homes and National Grid turned off the power.

The cause of the gas disaster is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, which announced during a press conference Saturday that they’ve found no evidence that the incident was the result of an intentional act.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)