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Homes left in pieces, debris strewn over cars after MA explosions

Homes left in pieces, debris strewn over cars after MA explosions

A strong gas odor has brought officials back to one of the MA communities rocked just days ago by natural gas explosions and fires.

The dramatic series of explosions and fires Thursday destroyed or damaged dozens of homes, killed a teenager, injured dozens and forced thousands of people to evacuate from the three Merrimack Valley communities.

As federal officials opened their investigation into Thursday's disaster, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that there doesn't appear to be "anything nefarious, anything suspicious, anything intentional".

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", said Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield.

In April, Columbia Gas filed a petition with the state's Department of Public Utilities to increase annual revenues by $24.1 million in part to help the company replace aging infrastructure. Leonel Rondon, 18, died after a chimney fell on his auto in Lawrence.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera was also present. Utility crews worked through the weekend to make sure all of the gas meters were off and electricity was on.

The Red Cross reported Friday that about 400 people were staying in shelters.

Police and fire personnel, as well as 120 utility representatives, will be on standby as people return to their homes, the governor said. Baker said New England-based Eversource would replace Columbia Gas of MA.

"Weather permitting, work will take place Monday through Friday", Columbia Gas said in a statement. He later died at the hospital, authorities said.

Local officials also warned about donation scammers.

A Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation natural gas pipeline burst in West Virginia in 2012 and NTSB investigators determined that external corrosion, which could have been discovered by the pipeline operator, was at fault.

Utility President Steve Bryant later defended the company's performance, saying the company had remained in constant touch with state and federal officials.