CBSN

Gas inspections continue days after explosions in Massachusetts

Last Updated Sep 15, 2018 3:09 PM EDT

LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Utility workers were continuing to go door-to-door at thousands of houses in the Merrimack Valley on Saturday, checking gas valves two days after a series of explosions and fires prompted widespread evacuations, CBS Boston reported.

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

new gas leak was reported in Lawrence Saturday morning after an odor of gas was detected. The leak was later described as "routine" and unrelated to the previous explosions. The building was within an evacuation zone as a result of the previous explosions, so the building was already empty when the gas leak was discovered, according to Tracy Stefanowicz, the communications manager of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.

A series of gas explosions Thursday killed a teenager, injured about 25 others, damaged dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of thousands in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover. 

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

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 aims to restore electricity to the majority of customers on Saturday.

Massachusetts officials, meanwhile, warned of a scam targeting people seeking to help those displaced by the natural gas explosions and fires that rocked communities north of Boston. Local officials in Lawrence and Andover said residents have reported receiving calls from individuals falsely claiming they're collecting donations on behalf of a local firefighter's association for the disaster. 

Lawrence officials said people should instead bring essential items to the city's Senior Center and other locations that have been set up to aid victims.

Andover officials said anyone offering support or donations should email AndoverCommunitySupportandoverma.us. 

A Columbia Gas of Massachusetts crew works in a neighborhood evacuated following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence

A Columbia Gas of Massachusetts crew works in a neighborhood evacuated following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018.

BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS