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Gas Inspections Continue Days After Merrimack Valley Explosions

LAWRENCE (CBS) – Utility workers are continuing going door-to-door at thousands of houses in the Merrimack Valley checking gas valves two days after a series of explosions and fires prompted widespread evacuations.

Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions: What We Know

Most South Lawrence residents displaced from gas explosions can expect to get back into their homes by 7 a.m. Sunday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Saturday night.

On Friday, Baker declared a state of emergency in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. This allowed the Department of Public Utilities to replace Columbia Gas with Eversource as the lead in recovery efforts.

A new gas leak was reported in Lawrence on Saturday morning after an odor of gas was detected.

Merrimack Valley Explosions
A gas explosion destroyed this home in Lawrence, Sept. 13, 2018. (WBZ-TV)

Thursday night, an over-pressurized gas line caused several explosions and 60-80 fires all at one time.

Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty tweeted Saturday to thank his department and surrounding towns for their efforts following the chaotic night in the Merrimack Valley.

Eversource said Friday it would be weeks, not days, to fully restore gas service in the region.

"While we all know that there's a lot more work left to do, we're starting to make some progress," Baker said Saturday night.

Merrimack Valley Explosions gas meter check columbia gas
A Columbia Gas worker checks a gas meter, September 14, 2018. (WBZ-TV)

More than 100 gas technicians were deployed throughout the night and into Saturday to make sure each home is safe to enter. No one in the area should turn on their gas unless a crew turns it on for them.

Even after residents return and their electricity is restored, gas service won't be turned on until technicians can inspect every connection in each home.

Thousands of customers are without power in the region. National Grid said power has been restored to 6-8 percent of customers across the Merrimack Valley. The company aimed to restore electricity to the majority of customers on Saturday.

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