Massachusetts gas explosions were not intentional, feds say

Federal investigators said Saturday there doesn't appear to be "anything intentional" behind the series of gas explosions that killed a teenager, injured 25 people and burned or damaged about six dozen homes in the Boston suburbs.

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the agency plans on looking into the procedures and record-keeping of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, whose pipelines set off Thursday's explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Mass.

They also plan to take a closer look into recent complaints from the utility's customers, Sumwalt said at a news conference.

RELATED: Multiple house explosions reported in Massachusetts

25 PHOTOS
Multiple house explosions reported in Massachusetts
See Gallery
Multiple house explosions reported in Massachusetts
A neighbor looks at a home burned in a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A burnt Columbia Gas of Massachusetts envelope sits on the sidewalk outside a home burned during a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
A house is destroyed in Lawrence, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 after a series of gas explosions in the area. First-responders continued to fight at least 50 fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover Mass., Thursday. The fires are being attributed to problems with the natural gas system and officials are urging residents to leave their homes if they smell gas. (Carl Russo/The Eagle-Tribune via AP)
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, firefighters battle a large structure fire in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Ra Nam, right, with his sons Evan, left, and Tristan, center, wait in a parking lot outside their Colonial Heights neighborhood which was evacuated Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Lawrence, Mass., due to fires and explosions triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. (AP Photo/Phil Marcelo)
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume the roof of a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Bruce Razin, 59, talks to his family on his cell phone outside his evacuated neighborhood Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Lawrence, Mass. Evacuations were ordered after a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. (AP Photo/Phil Marcelo)
Firefighters battle a house fire, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, on Herrick Road in North Andover, Mass., one of multiple emergency crews responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames rise from a house in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, firefighters battle a raging house fire in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Firefighters battle a house fire, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, on Herrick Road in North Andover, Mass., one of multiple emergency crews responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, firefighters battle a large structure fire in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Multiple fire trucks from surrounding communities arrive Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Lawrence, Mass., responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. (AP Photo/Phil Marcelo)
Neighbours pick up up free cakes and sweets from Carlos Cakes, a bakery without power after a series of gas explosions, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A burnt Columbia Gas of Massachusetts envelope sits on the sidewalk outside a home burned during a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A police officer stands outside a home where a man died in a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Residents hug after picking up up free cakes and sweets from Carlos Cakes, a bakery without power after a series of gas explosions, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts workers and police work in a neighborhood evacuated following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Representatives of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts take contact information from residents but do not answer their questions following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Residents carry charcoal after a series of gas explosions left them without gas or power in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A Columbia Gas of Massachusetts crew works in a neighborhood evacuated following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A Columbia Gas of Massachusetts crew works in a neighborhood evacuated following a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A police officer stands outside a home where a man died in a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Neighbors look at a home burned in a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

He also said Columbia Gas, a unit of NiSource Inc., was notified about a recorded pressure increase in its pipeline control console in Columbus, Ohio, before the explosions.

Investigators will examine how the gas company responded to that change in pressure and whether its response was in line with safety protocols.

"We expect to be on the scene anywhere from seven to 10 days and we will thoroughly document," Sumwalt said. "Our purpose for being on scene is to collect perishable evidence. We are not here on scene to determine the probable cause, that will occur on a different day."

Leonel Robson, 18, of Lawrence, Mass., was killed when a chimney from a house explosion in Lawrence fell on the car he was in, officials said.

The eruptions also cut power to more than 8,000 homes.

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on Friday. He faulted the response of Columbia Gas, and essentially directed another utility, Eversource, to take over the effort to restore utility services to the three towns.

The NTSB estimates its investigation could take up to two years to complete because of the nature and scope of the incident.

"We want to find out what happened so that other neighborhoods don’t have to go through the devastation that happened here," Sumwalt said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.