WASHINGTON – Residents of three suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, began returning to their homes on Friday, a day after a series of gas explosions damaged nearly 70 buildings.
Access roads to the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover remain closed, however, and authorities are still inspecting some buildings.
“Police, Fire and Utility crews are doing house to house checks this will be ongoing till further notice,” the Lawrence Police Department said Friday morning on Twitter.
Even so, authorities have started to allow some of the 8,600 people who had been evacuated to return to their homes.
“Reminder: Do not attempt to turn your gas back on. This isn’t a DIY (do it yourself) project. Call Columbia Gas if you turned off your gas and are outside of the affected area,” the Andover Police Department said on Twitter.
The incident began at about 5 pm Thursday when explosions occurred at 35 buildings in Andover, 20 in Lawrence and 12 in North Andover
The blasts apparently were caused by over-pressurized gas lines.
Although calm has been restored in those three suburbs north of Boston, the Massachusetts’ House of Representatives decided that all non-emergency public institutions there would remain closed on Friday.
An 18-year-old man was killed inside his car when a chimney from one of the affected buildings fell on the vehicle.
A dozen other people were injured, one of them seriously, by explosion-triggered fires, which emergency services worked overnight to extinguish.