FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2018 file image from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume the roof of a home following an explosion in Lawrence, Mass. The U.S. Attorney's office in Boston announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, that Columbia Gas Columbia agreed to plead guilty to violating the Pipeline Safety Act following an investigation into the catastrophic gas explosions. (WCVB via AP, File)

Utility to plead guilty to federal charges over explosions

February 26, 2020 - 9:20 am

BOSTON (AP) — Federal officials say a utility company blamed for a series of natural gas explosions in Massachusetts has agreed to plead guilty to breaking pipeline safety laws.

The U.S. Attorney''s Office in Boston tweeted Wednesday that Columbia Gas of Massachusetts will plead guilty to violating the Pipeline Safety Act following a federal investigation into the September 2018 explosions that left left one person dead.

A spokesman for Columbia Gas of Massachusetts didn't immediately return a phone message.

Federal officials are expected to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to announce more details.

The explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover injured about 25 others, and damaged or destroyed dozens of buildings. Many people were forced into temporary shelter, and thousands of homes and businesses went without natural gas service for weeks and even months during the winter.

Leonel Rondon, 18, died when a chimney collapsed on his vehicle in the driveway of a friend’s home.

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