Explosions Force Gemline To Close Temporarily

An over-pressurized gas main is the possible cause of at least three explosions and more than 60 fires that have rocked towns in Massachusetts.

Top 40 supplier Gemline (asi/56070) is among the Massachusetts businesses being impacted by an outbreak of explosions that authorities preliminarily suspect were caused by an over-pressurized gas main.

In a communication to the industry, Gemline said that the explosions did not damage its Lawrence, MA facility. Still, state and local authorities have closed the area to businesses and residents, meaning Gemline’s building is not allowed to open. “Due to the situation, operations and shipping are closed, but customer service and order management teams are operating remotely,” Dawn M. Ring, marketing communications manager, said in an email.

As of this Friday morning writing, Gemline executives were uncertain when the company would be able to reopen the facility and resume full operations. “We hope it will be soon,” said Ring. “We will provide an update upon receiving clearance from state and local authorities.”

In a statement to Counselor, Gemline said that it is actively contacting employees who live in affected communities to check on their well-being. It was not immediately clear if any had been impacted.

According to The Boston Globe, more than 60 fires and at least three gas explosions erupted in the Massachusetts towns of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover “in a staccato burst of flame” late Thursday afternoon. Other media outlets put the number of fires above 70. At least one man died, while mass evacuations occurred and scores of buildings were damaged. “This is like Armageddon,” Garry Frizzell, 51, of North Andover, told the Globe.

The office of the Massachusetts fire marshal said an investigation into the cause of the explosions is zeroing in on potential over-pressurization of a gas main owned by Columbia Gas. Columbia Gas reportedly serves 50,000 customers in and around Lawrence, and had been working to upgrade equipment there.

Gemline asked for understanding from clients given the situation in its backyard. “Your business is important to us,” the company communication said. “We will do all we can to ensure orders continue to ship on time. If an order you’ve placed with us is impacted in any way, we will contact you directly as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience as we work through this unusual circumstance.”