The Boston gas company whose network of pipes exploded on Thursday, destroying 60 homes and killing a teenager was planning to start improvement works on Monday and announced it hours before the first blasts happened.
Columbia Gas did not respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries about the disaster on Friday morning.
On Thursday morning, hours before the first explosions tore through Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, it announced that it would begin improvement works on its network of pipes which, the company said were ‘ready to be retired’.
At around noon, however, the explosions began, sparking terror among residents who said the scene was like ‘Armageddon’.
This was the aftermath of a gas explosion which destroyed a home in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston on Thursday in a string of blasts which terrorized three different towns and obliterated dozens of homes
Another home in Lawrence, is shown on Friday, the day after the sequence of explosions. Officials are yet to confirm it but they believe the cause was an over-pressurized gas main
The top floor windows of a property in Lawrence were all blown out as a result of the explosions. The gas company whose pipes were the ones which blew were due to replace them over the next few weeks
Part of a home which was affected in Lawrence is shown on Friday. Residents were out walking the streets despite warnings about staying away from the area
Dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed, 12 people were injured and 18-year-old Leonel Rondon was killed.
According to the state fire marshal, which is still investigating the cause of the accident, it is likely that an over pressurized gas main is what caused it.
It is not known if Columbia Gas was planning to replace it as part of its improvement works.
In its announcement of the project on Thursday, the company said: ‘As with many other types of infrastructure, like roads, dams, and bridges, deterioration occurs over time and repairs or replacement are eventually needed.
‘The old gas pipes installed in your neighborhood generations ago served us well, but they are now ready to be retired.
‘If we do nothing, the cost to maintain and repair these older pipes will be higher than the cost to replace them.
A home in North Andover, another town which saw explosions, is pictured on Friday, the day after the explosions
A house in Lawrence was taped off by police on Friday. Many residents were forced to leave as a safety precaution regardless of whether their home had been blown up
A Columbia Gas envelope lies singed on the street. The company is yet to confirm whether the gas main which is believed to have been responsible was due to be replaced
‘That is why we are taking proactive steps today, reducing costs to our customers.’
For the people driven out of their homes by the fires, it will be a long time before they can return to normal life, let alone their properties.
On Friday, schools in the area remain closed. The explosions caused 18,000 people across the city to lose power. Rondon was killed by flying debris which hit the car he was traveling in with two friends.
He was out celebrating getting his driver’s license at the time.
Gov. Charlie Baker said on Thursday night that state and local authorities are investigating but that it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers.
The Massachusetts State Police released an image on Thursday of a map showing where the fires are. Officials said there were between 60 and 80 fires at one time
Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed when a chimney fell on his car when a house exploded. He was pronounced dead at Mass General Hospital at around 8:30pm
‘This is still very much an active scene,’ he said.
‘There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why.’
According to The Eagle Tribune, officials have alerted Holy Family Hospital in Methuen to expect multiple admissions.
The Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet on Thursday that residents in the affected areas who have gas service from Columbia Gas ‘should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not done so’.
They updated the tweet to say that Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is asking all residents of South Lawrence to evacuate their homes.
‘This is addition to evacuation of all Columbia Gas customers in Lawrence/Andover/North Andover,’ state police said. ‘Utility cos shutting off several thousand meters.’
Officials warned residents with gas service with Columbia Gas to leave their homes immediately, forcing thousands to flee. Above, a scene on Thursday
Crews work to knock down a fire in a home that was badly damaged in Lawrence on Thursday. The company that owns Columbia Gas says its crews are performing safety checks after a series of fires and explosions erupted in three communities north of Boston
By late Thursday, all of the fires had been doused but many areas remained silent and dark after residents fled and after power companies cut electricity to prevent further fires.
Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told The Eagle Tribune that he’s ‘never seen anything like this.’
Earlier on Thursday, before the explosions, Columbia Gas said in a news release that it was upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhood across the state.
The company said the improvements would lead to long-term benefits including enhanced safety features and reliable service.
Work on the upgraded gas lines was expected to begin on Monday and continue until Friday, with gas service shut off during the installation.
Residents cover their face from the smoke while being evacuated from homes as firefighters battle a fire on Bowdoin Street in Lawrence