Lawrence Mayor Criticizes Columbia Gas Response

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — The mayor of a Massachusetts community affected by a series of natural gas explosions is heavily criticizing utility Columbia Gas.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera on Friday said that Columbia's communications with local authorities have been poor and that the company is "hiding from the problem."

The Democrat says the city evacuated the affected areas as asked, and had the electricity shut off as asked, but "everything since then has been obfuscation."

He says his fire and police chiefs have not gotten any answers from the company.

Columbia Gas services Lawrence, as well as Andover and North Andover.

The blasts Thursday are being blamed for more than 60 fires, a death and about 25 injuries.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker backed Rivera and said he was declaring a state of emergency so the state could take over recovery efforts.

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