Fires and Explosions Kill One, Displace Thousands in Massachusetts
A series of gas explosions and fires devastated residents of Merrimack Valley, just north of Boston, last week. One young man was killed when a chimney fell on his car and crushed him, and dozens of others were injured.
The fires and explosions occurred in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, and affected some 8,600 homes. Residents were evacuated for several days, and have just now begun returning to their houses. Electricity has been turned back on in the afflicted neighborhoods, but most residents do not have gas for heating and cooking. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident, but does not have an estimate for when the gas will be turned back on.
Fortunately for residents of the three cities, officials are planning to put together a disaster relief fund to provide resources for those in Merrimack Valley who have experienced losses. Governor Charlie Baker said the relief fund would be handled by the Essex County Community Foundation, and that the amount of the fund was expected to be in the millions of dollars.
In the meantime, Columbia Gas, the utility company that provides gas service to the area, is offering free gift cards of $100 to $300 to residents who show up at various locations to file a claim. Residents can also file a claim by dialing (800) 590-5571; however, they will not get a gift card.
What Caused the Explosions?
Officials believe the explosions and fires were caused by too much pressure. Preliminary reports by the NTSB suggest that the amount of pressure in the area’s gas lines was 12 times the normal level before the explosions occurred. The normal amount of pressure the pipelines are intended to carry is 0.5 pounds per square inch (PSI). Pressure levels before the explosion registered at 6 PSI.
Compensation for Your Losses
If you have been injured, or lost your home due to the negligence of a utility company, you have the right to be covered for your losses. But don’t expect a large corporation like a gas company to pay you the compensation you deserve out of the goodness of their heart. They may offer you a settlement, but it may be less than you need.
To fully recover for your losses, you’ll need to enlist the representation of an experienced Boston-area personal injury attorney. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (978) 258-7600. We have an office in Andover on Brickstone Square, so please call us and schedule your appointment there today.