FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Sept. 14, 2018
Media contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Andover Public Safety Officials Provide Update on Gas Emergency
ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick Keefe and Fire Chief Michael B. Mansfield report that certain town residents are clear to return home at this time.
- Residents SOUTH of the intersection of Rt. 28 and Salem Street (toward North Reading) and those WEST of the intersection of Beacon Street and Reservation Road (toward Tewksbury) may return home at this time. They are not in the affected area.
- Residents NORTH of Rt. 28 at Salem Street (toward Lawrence and the Merrimack River) should remain out of their homes at this time. A total of 20 teams, each consisting of a police officer, firefighter and natural gas technician will be going house-to-house to 1,800 affected natural gas customers in this area to verify that the gas meters are shut off, or to shut them off. The gas service will not be restored until the gas company determines it is safe to do so.
- Residents in the unaffected zone (South of Rt. 28/Salem Street) but turned off your gas service manually, LEAVE IT OFF until a gas technician can come to your home and restore service properly.
The Town of Andover has made facilities available to residents displaced by today’s gas emergency and resulting fires. The Andover Senior Center and Youth Center, located at 30 Whittier Court are open to displaced residents.
An estimated 8,000 people across Andover, North Andover and Lawrence have been displaced by today’s incident.
National Grid has cut off the power to a portion of town. Power will be restored as soon as the utility companies determine it is safe to do so.
Andover Public Schools are closed Friday, and after-school activities are cancelled.
“Ensuring safety in the area and protecting residents is the highest priority at this time,” Town Manager Flanagan said. “This is a major event, and I want to thank our first responders and residents for their teamwork as we prepare to begin the recovery process.”
All fires in Andover had been extinguished as of 6:45 p.m. Three people were injured in Andover as a result of this incident, including two firefighters and one civilian. Six additional civilians who could not safely evacuate from their homes have been transported to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.
Town Manager Flanagan has been in regular communication with Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor as well as Governor Charlie Baker and officials from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
At 5:01 p.m., Andover Fire Rescue struck a 10-alarm response, its maximum traditional fire response. That directed 20 fire engines and 10 fire ladder trucks to the Town of Andover plus the town’s entire fire department. However, a lot of those resources were diverted by concurrent 10-alarm situations in Lawrence and North Andover. (In fact, many of the units directed to respond to Andover were North Andover and Lawrence fire units that were already responding to emergencies in their communities.)
Chief Michael Mansfield requested through MEMA, two additional fire task forces to respond to Andover. This sent an additional 20 engines and ladder trucks total to Andover. Chief Mansfield also requested an ambulance task force, sending 10 ambulances to Andover.
A total of 38 active fires in Andover were put out during today’s emergency, with 18 fires burning simultaneously at the peak of the incident. Firefighters also responded to 17 gas leaks.
Chief Keefe notes that police resources from throughout Massachusetts responded to Andover, including the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) Rapid Response Team, the NEMLEC Motor Unit, and the Massachusetts State Police. Chief Mansfield is grateful for the response of so many agencies including MEMA, The State Fire Marshal’s Office, and fire departments from as far away as Boston, Needham, and Belmont.
More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available. Updates will be made at www.andoverma.gov and on the town’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.