NBC Channel 10 Boston, recently reported a major gas leak that caused evacuations in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Friday was started when city contractors checking water valves “inadvertently closed a gas valve” officials said Friday evening.

The leak caused hundreds of people to be evacuated from their homes and two schools early in the morning as authorities and Columbia Gas responded, just over one year after the area was rocked by gas explosions and fires.

The cause of the leak was announced about 6:45 p.m. by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Columbia Gas and the city of Lawrence in this statement:

Early this morning, while conducting a routine check of water valves in preparation of road paving, contractors working for the City of Lawrence inadvertently closed a gas valve, puncturing an active gas main. Preliminarily, it appears that this gas valve should have been disabled as part of pipeline reconstruction in 2018 and was not compliant with DPU standards. Out of an abundance of caution, Columbia Gas has identified 45 gas valves that the Department of Public Utilities has required Columbia Gas and mutual aid partners to immediately inspect and bring into compliance if necessary. The process of inspecting and remediating these valves, located near surface level of the road, will not require excavating and will be completed by Saturday. Until then, the Department has instructed all municipalities in the Merrimack Valley to suspend all construction and maintenance projects in the affected area until the valves are determined to be safe by the Department of Public Utilities. The Department will continue to closely monitor the restoration effort and Columbia Gas will be required to continue to use mobile leak detection equipment in the form of “sniffer trucks.” The small number of residents who have not yet returned home should expect to return home following completion of testing of the impacted pipeline to ensure safe operation. The Department’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Luckily, no one was hurt, and all residents could return home.

With gas being a prevalent source of heat for many homes, being cognizant of any gas leak can help save property and lives.

Eversource, a regional provider of gas in the New England area, offers a helpful guide in the event of a gas leak – Learn how to recognize the signs of a gas leak, act fast, and be prepared for an emergency.

If you suspect a gas leak, keep yourself safe.

  • See – A white cloud, mist or fog, bubbles in still water, blowing dust, or dead or dying plants.
  • Smell – A distinct rotten egg-like odor.
  • Hear – Unusual hissing, roaring or whistling.

If you do suspect a leak, you should leave the location and call 911