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Merrimack Valley Residents Displaced After Gas Explosions Are Allowed To Return Home

Fire inspectors take notes outside a house that was blown off its foundation on Kingston Street in Lawrence, Mass., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Mary Schwalm/AP)
Fire inspectors take notes outside a house that was blown off its foundation on Kingston Street in Lawrence, Mass., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

In the Merrimack Valley, most displaced residents are able to return to their homes Sunday morning, after Thursday's series of natural gas explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Speaking in Lawrence Sunday morning, Gov. Charlie Baker said teams have completed assessing and turning off all 8,600 of the affected gas meters.

"As of 6:30 a.m. this morning, all impacted homes have been safely cleared of gas," he said. "The second step of Phase 1 is to safely restore power, [and] as of 6:30, over 15,000 residents have had their power restored and 100 percent [will have it] shortly."

But Baker had this request for returning residents: "We ask that they be vigilant, and take notice of any damages that may have occurred from the original incident. If you notice any fire-related damage to gas appliances or heating systems, call 911."

MBTA buses are being used to drive people to their homes.

Gas service is not being restored at this time.

Baker's office said in a statement that Phase 2 of the recovery is assessing damage to the low-pressure gas system, and Phase 3 is technicians inspecting all gas equipment, from the meter, where gas enters a building, and throughout the building.

"It’s been a difficult and grueling weekend for North Andover, Andover and Lawrence residents," Baker said in a tweet. "I often say the people of the Commonwealth are resilient—and this devastating situation is no exception."

Baker said a recovery resource center will open in Lawrence Sunday at 1 p.m. "to help the residents who were affected by Thursday’s incident. The center will be located at the Arlington Middle School in Lawrence, where the existing emergency shelter is located now."

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