53 homes evacuated after contractor strikes gas line in Lawrence

Over 50 homes were evacuated in Lawrence Monday afternoon after a contractor struck a gas line, Lawrence firefighters said, triggering flashbacks to last year’s deadly outbreak of gas-fueled explosions and fires in the Lawrence area.

A city contractor struck a low-pressure gas line at 15 Florence Ave. around 11:13 a.m., said Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty. Moriarty did not know which company the contactor worked for.

“The gas has been shut off. No injuries, no fires, no explosions, but we’re setting up a shelter at the Arlington Street school because of the temperature. We don’t want people to get cold. The estimated repair time is 6 to 12 hours,” Moriarty said.


Moriarty said officials are providing buses to take people to the shelter. He did not know how many people were displaced.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts said it turned off electricity and shut off gas service.

“Columbia Gas crews are making repairs to a natural gas line in Lawrence after a city contractor damaged a marked line on Florence Ave. earlier today. Both Columbia Gas crews and emergency responders quickly responded, and emergency responders evacuated four nearby buildings,” Columbia Gas said in a tweet at 1:34 p.m.

A Sept. 27 gas leak also revived memories of the 2018 outbreak. Hundreds of people were evacuated.

On Sept. 13, 2018, one man was killed in the natural gas catastrophe that triggered over 100 fires and explosions in Lawrence and two other communities. The National Transportation Safety Board later blamed Columbia Gas for the outbreak.

Michael Levenson and Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at alyssa.lukpat@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.