In the midst of the massive public safety response to Lawrence Thursday night after a series of gas-related explosions, Massachusetts State Police detected a major gas leak underneath a city road through a helicopter’s infrared camera, officials said.

State Police’s Air 5 helicopter was hovering over Lawrence, providing firefighters with aerial support, around 11 p.m. when the gas leak was detected, State Police said in a statement.

Trooper Eric Fairchild, the tactical flight officer on the mission, was looking at the monitor for the helicopter’s Forward Looking InfraRed camera system when “he observed an anomaly under the pavement” at the intersection of South Broadway and Andover Street, police said.


The flight crew alerted the Lawrence Fire Department of the gas leak, and firefighters were able to confirm the presence of the leak underground and manage it accordingly, police said.

A firefighter stands over the gas leak.
A firefighter stands over the gas leak.Massachusetts State Police

“Through their attention to detail, the crew of MSP Air 5 likely prevented another catastrophic event,” police said in the statement.

Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon.