Gas Explosions and Fires Devastate Our Neighbors in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover
Over-pressured gas lines serviced by Columbia Gas Company burst and caused explosions and fires over a wide swath of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover Massachusetts last week. The shocking and deadly chaos erupted in the afternoon as gas lines exploded inside homes, causing dozens of fires in homes in the area simultaneously. Fire departments from all over the state as well as New Hampshire and Maine responded with equipment and firefighters. One man was killed as he sat in his car next to a house that exploded; the chimney of the house fell on his car. At least 25 people were injured. Over 8000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes, and National Grid cut off electricity to the area as a precaution to prevent sparks from creating additional fires.
What Caused the Explosions?
On the day of the explosions, Columbia Gas posted a notice on its website stating that on that very day they would begin the process of upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state.
The cause of the over-pressurization is undetermined at this time.
What Happens Next?
Residents won’t have gas for several weeks, as all the pipes that were put under tremendous pressure during the incident have to be replaced. 48 miles of cast iron and steel pipes must be replaced before gas service can be restored to the majority of the homes affected.
All of those involved have our greatest sympathies, from the homeowners and residents to the first responders and repair crews. Massive disasters like this are very wearing on everyone involved as everything in life like finding food and temporary shelter – taking showers and washing your clothes – getting your children to and from school – worrying about what will become of your belongings – dealing with insurance company representatives – all become stressful undertakings that sap the life out of you.
What Should I Do?
Here’s some excellent advice from the Massachusetts Attorney General:
Homeowners Who Suffered Damage
- If your home has been damaged or destroyed, it is important that you make a list as soon as possible of valuable items in your home (furniture, jewelry, electronics, cash, etc.). This will help complete claims paperwork later.
- Keep all receipts for any money you spend related to this emergency, such as hotel bills, monies paid to hospitals, replacement clothing or baby supplies, etc.
- If possible, document any damage with pictures or videos and do not dispose of any damaged items unless instructed otherwise.
- Use reasonable means to save and preserve property that has not already been destroyed. For example, if possible, board or tarp open areas exposed to the elements to prevent water damage.
- Public adjusters may attempt to contact you and offer to handle your insurance claim on your behalf. Public adjusters are supposed to act as your representative in dealing with an insurance company in exchange for a percentage of your insurance settlement. There is no requirement that you hire a public adjuster to handle your claim, but if you decide to enter into an agreement with a public adjuster, please read the contract carefully before signing it. (emphasis added)
- Many renters in the region may be unable to safely occupy their homes for days or weeks, depending upon the extent of the damage. Some housing may be permanently uninhabitable.
- Renters should contact their landlord and notify them in writing about the extent of damage to rental units.
- Residents may want to document damage with photographs from their unit, if the unit can be entered safely.
- If units are uninhabitable, renters should discuss alternate housing that the landlord can provide or withholding rent while the renter finds other housing.
- Renters should review the terms of their leases to hold informed conversations.
- All rental housing in Massachusetts must meet state standards for health and safety.
However, you should be aware that the Massachusetts General Attorney’s office is not able to give you legal advice, nor act as your personal attorney.
Trust our Massachusetts Environmental Disaster Lawyers to Help
Thornton Law Firm has represented victims of catastrophic accidents and environmental disasters for four decades. Our team of environmental lawyers is ready to assist any person or family who suffered damages and losses in these recent gas explosions and fires in our state. Call 888-491-9726 or our local number 617-720-1333 to speak with an attorney about your claim, or use our online contact form here to send us a message with your information. The gas company and the insurance companies already have lawyers. Protect your interests as soon as you are able and get the legal advice you need.
Thornton Law Firm has strengthened its nationally-known toxic exposure and birth defects practice with the addition of trial lawyer David Bricker, who joins the firm as of counsel. He was previously a partner with the Los Angeles office of Waters & Kraus, where he chaired their Birth Injury practice.
The Firm is also pleased to announce the establishment of their new office, located at 9430 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 400, Beverly Hills, California; telephone number (310) 282-8676; facsimile (310) 388-5316. Mr. Bricker will manage Thornton Law Firm’s new California office.
“David Bricker is an accomplished attorney who will complement and expand our birth defects practice in California and across the country,” said Michael Thornton, founder and chair of Thornton Law Firm. “A skilled litigator, he also has the ability and the relationships to grow the firm’s business. We’re happy to have David Bricker on board.”
Mr. Bricker brings with him more than 25 years of litigation experience, having successfully tried complex cases in both state and federal court. Mr. Bricker’s fields of expertise include toxic exposure and birth injury litigation, asbestos exposure litigation, products liability litigation, professional negligence litigation, railroad liability, elder and dependent adult abuse, general business litigation and bankruptcy litigation.
“I have always been impressed with David’s dedication to his clients and his reputation in the legal community,” said David Strouss, head of Thornton Law Firm’s toxic exposure and birth defects practice. “We have tried cases together as co-counsel and I look forward to working hand in hand with him as we represent our clients, children and families who have suffered life-altering birth defects through no fault of their own, in seeking justice and compensation for those injuries.”
“David has been working with us on some of our asbestos mesothelioma cases over the last few years, and I look forward to having him as a permanent member of our team,” said Andrew Wainwright, who manages the firm’s asbestos trial practice.
“David’s vast trial and litigation experience fortifies our ability to give our clients the highest level of representation in these complex and technical birth defect cases.” commented Garrett Bradley, Managing Partner of Thornton Law Firm. “The combination of David Bricker and David Strouss, who has litigated and tried birth defect cases for more than 30 years, is a real coup and solidifies our reputation as a national leader in this field.”
Mr. Bricker is admitted to practice law in the states of California, Illinois and Massachusetts. In addition, he is admitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Central District of California, the Northern District of Illinois, and the District of Massachusetts. He holds a J.D. from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a B.A. in Political Science from Pitzer College in Claremont, California.
Thornton Law Firm was founded in 1978 by Michael Thornton doing groundbreaking work for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Now the leading injury law firm in Massachusetts and the largest plaintiff law firm in New England, the firm has 20 attorneys representing thousands of clients in a wide variety of plaintiff-side work. For four decades, Thornton Law Firm has fought the asbestos industry, the lead paint industry, the tobacco industry, manufacturers of dangerous chemicals, pesticide makers, big Pharma, big banks, and insurance giants. Thornton Law Firm was one of the first firms in the county to represent families of children born with birth defects caused by chemical exposures in the workplace, and has been instrumental in securing multimillion dollar recoveries for families with children who suffered serious birth defects from their parents’ exposure to chemicals and agricultural pesticides.