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The following is a statement issued by Columbia Gas Friday, Sept. 14, at 11:10 a.m.

What happened in the Merrimack Valley yesterday was a tragic incident. We are saddened to learn of the death of a young man as a result of these events. Our thoughts and continued support are with those who have been injured and affected. We are focused on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities. We are grateful for the community’s patience, as well as the tremendous support we have received from our first responder and law enforcement partners.

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As part of response efforts, Columbia Gas crews need to visit each of the 8,600 affected customers to shut off each gas meter and conduct a safety inspection. More than 500 resources from several affiliated Columbia Gas companies and other utilities are currently mobilizing to provide assistance.

Please do not enter your house unless you are accompanied by a gas company representative.

We expect this will be an extended restoration effort, and we are working tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers.

The Red Cross has established shelters at the following locations. They will accommodate pets. For more information, call 774-204-5071.

• Arlington School, 150 Arlington Street, Lawrence

• Parthum School, 255 Haverhill Street, Lawrence

• North Andover High School, 430 Osgood Street, North Andover

• Cormier Youth Center, 40 Whittier Court, Andover

We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate this incident. If you’re concerned about your gas service, we will schedule a safety check.

If customers have shut off their gas meter on their own, DO NOT attempt to turn your service back on and please wait for additional instructions.

If a customer smells an odor of natural gas, they should leave the area immediately, move to a safe location and call 911 and our emergency number at 1-800-525-8222.

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If a customer smells an odor of natural gas:

• Don’t turn off gas to your house or to any appliances.

• Don’t try to find the leak yourself or operate pipeline valves.

• Don’t light a match or candle, or operate anything that could cause a spark, including home phones or cell phones, lights, appliances, flashlights, power tools, etc.

• Don’t open the windows and doors in an attempt to ventilate.

Incident Contact Numbers

Property Claims Hotline – 1-800-590-5571

Dedicated Customer Service – 1-866-388-3239

Gas Emergency - 1-800-525-8222