Emergency personnel respond after a reported gas leak early Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 in Lawrence, Mass. About 100 people have been evacuated from their homes and two schools have been closed in response to a natural gas leak in the Massachusetts city affected a year ago by a series of gas explosions and fires. Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said the leak in a high-pressure line was discovered around 3:15 a.m. Friday and that the volume of gas released was in the "explosive range." No explosions or fires have been reported. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP)

Mayor: Residents affected by gas leak can return home soon

September 27, 2019 - 11:35 am

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Hundreds of residents evacuated because of a natural gas leak in a Massachusetts city affected by gas explosions and fires last year will soon be able to return home.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said Friday that electricity and gas are gradually being restored and that the majority of residents will be allowed to return by midafternoon.

The leak was discovered around 3:15 a.m. Friday. About 150 homes were evacuated as a precaution.

Gov. Charlie Baker says state officials are still investigating but are confident that the leak is isolated and that there's no immediate public safety risk.

Mark Kempic is president of Columbia Gas. He says the utility company has repaired leaks since replacing gas lines following last September's disaster but nothing to this magnitude.