Columbia Gas Company Issues Statement 5 Hours After Gas Explosions, Prompting Angry Responses

Columbia Gas issued a statement Thursday night addressing the 'incident in Lawrence'

The company that owns Columbia Gas says its crews are performing safety checks after a series of fires and explosions erupted in three communities north of Boston, but did not explain what went wrong.

Five hours after initial reports of gas-related fires or explosions, a statement from Indiana-based NiSource says its "thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident" and that it appreciates the response from local emergency crews.

State and local officials said at a news conference minutes earlier that they had still not heard from Columbia Gas following the fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Gov. Charlie Baker later clarified that he thought the company's response was "adequate."

The gas company's delay in issuing a statement Thursday prompted a storm of angry social media posts in response to Columbia's first tweet at 9:21 p.m.

"Stunning that @ColumbiaGasMA has just now tweeted about the tragedy in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. No excuse," tweeted Bob O'Brien. "Thank you to all the first responders."

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton also tweeted his frustration, saying, "Got the number of the Columbia Gas president and have tried him multiple times with no answer. Everyone wants answers. And we deserve them."

Authorities are blaming over-pressurized gas lines and previously told all residents with Columbia Gas service in the effected areas to evacuate.

One person was killed and at least 10 others were injured in the fires and explosions. 

SHOCKING IMAGES: Gas-Related Explosions and Fires in the Merrimack Valley

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