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First Responders Reflect On Merrimack Valley Fires

First Responders Reflect On The Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions, One Month Later

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield speaks with Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu.
Karen Marshall/WGBH News
First Responders Reflect On Merrimack Valley Fires

It's been a month since gas explosions rocked the Merrimack Valley. But for the incident's first responders, the memories are still fresh.

Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke to first responders about their experience on Sept. 13, when an overpressurized gas line caused at least 70 fires, explosions, and reports of gas odor in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. One person was killed, and thousands were displaced from their homes.

“I’d never seen anything like this before, I don’t think there's a lot of people in the fire service that would ever experience anything like this in their careers either," said Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield. "This is being touted right now as the largest natural gas incident to occur in the United States."

Mansfield, Andover Police Chief Pat Keefe, and Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty recounted the day's events as they experienced them. All three noted that had the explosions happened just a few hours later — when residents would have been home cooking dinner on gas stoves — things could have been much worse.

"I am just very grateful that it wasn't worse. It's a devastating event. Sadly, a young man died, and a young woman is seriously injured," said Moriarty. "But I'm so glad we're not saying that 50 or 60 people died and 100 were injured. I think that had a lot to do with timing and luck."

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