Columbia Gas offers $10M for relief fund after explosions, fires

New information about amount of people hurt in connection to Merrimack Valley explosions

Governor Baker and Andover Town Manager speak after meeting with small businesses affected by Merrimack Valley gas explosions

Posted by Boston 25 News on Wednesday, September 19, 2018

LAWRENCE, Mass. — A natural gas provider in Lawrence announced Tuesday it would be donating $10 million to a relief fund for victims of last week's gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley.

Columbia Gas CEO Steve Bryant appeared with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera Tuesday morning to make the announcement.

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"The citizens of this community are hurting, and as a step in the longer process, Columbia Gas would like to announce they will make an immediate 10 million contribution," Bryant said.

While the lump sun donation is coming, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera says law firms are already looking for plaintiffs for a class action lawsuit against Columbia Gas.

"I think it's shameful that people are trying to get victims today that are hungry for information," Rivera said.

A representative from Feeney Brothers, a subcontractor for Columbia Gas, told Boston 25 News that Feeney Brothers was working in the area the day of the explosion.

Residents of Lawrence and North Andover are still lining up to get relief funds after more than 80 natural gas explosions and fires were reported in the area last Thursday evening.

A teenager sitting in his car was killed when a chimney fell from a house after one of the explosions.

Meanwhile, two people suffered injuries after falling in the dark with no power, with an 88-year-old man suffering traumatic head and facial injuries on Saturday and a 55-year-old woman suffering severe head injuries, as well.

A relief fund was announced Monday to help affected residents in addition to payments from Columbia Gas and payouts from insurance companies.

The property claim center setup Monday to help families served about 500 before noon and, at the end of the day, hundreds of others were told not to come back until Wednesday.

A second claims facility was setup Tuesday to provide assistance. The Old Town Hall on Main Street in Andover was scheduled to be open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Residents in need of language translation services were asked to go to the Lawrence location on Market Street from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.