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Merrimack Valley Residents Returning Home After Gas Explosions

Merrimack Valley residents displaced by a series of gas explosions on Thursday are scheduled to finally return home Sunday. Authorities said residents could begin returning after 7 a.m.

At the height of the incident, about 8,600 residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were forced out of their homes.

During a press conference this morning, Gov. Charlie Baker and officials recommended residents remain cautious as they return. They stressed that residents without gas should not turn it back on themselves. They also said to ensure all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.

A federal investigator says there's no evidence to suggest the gas explosions were intentional.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Saturday as federal officials opened their investigation into Thursday's disaster that there doesn't appeal to be "anything nefarious, anything suspicious, anything intentional."

The explosions and fires killed a teenager, injured 25, damaged homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate.

Sumwalt said it appears Columbia Gas' pipeline control center in Columbus, Ohio registered a pressure increase in the Lawrence area.

He said investigators will be working to develop a timeline, including how local utility officials reacted to the pressure increase.

Investigators expect to be on site up to 10 days. A final report could take up to two years.

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