Wednesday, November 22, 2006

According to outgoing Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, an explosion that was “equivalent to a 2,000 lb. bomb” and registered 0.5 on the Richter scale decimated an area of Danvers and is also a “Thanksgiving miracle.”

The explosion occurred around 2:45 am EST, this morning in the Danversport area of Danvers, Massachusetts at the plant for solvent and ink manufacturer, CAI Inc. The explosion, which was caught on security camera and was heard up to over 25-50 miles away in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

The explosion damaged over 90 homes, blowing out windows and knocking some houses off their foundations. Officials believe that some of the more extensively damaged houses will have to be leveled and rebuilt. Some of the buildings damaged included a bakery, boats at a close by marina and the New England Home for the Deaf, an assisted-living facility for people who are deaf or deafblind and elderly residents requiring constant care. “These people are extremely fragile,” said state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers, whose district includes the affected area. “Many of them have Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. It’s clear they can’t stay here long, but it’s clear they won’t be able to return for quite a while.”

Danvers Fire Chief James P. Tutko toured the area by helicopter and said many residents would be kept from their homes for the foreseeable future. “It looks like a war zone, that’s the only thing I can say,” Tutko said. When asked about the loss of no life at all, he responded “Somebody out there likes us.” Finally, he said that finding out the cause of the explosion would take days.

Outgoing governor Mitt Romney toured the area and said the explosion was a “Thanksgiving miracle” as the explosion was “equivalent to a 2,000 lb bomb going off in a residential neighborhood,” and that no one was killed and only about 10 people suffered only minor injuries in area that included over 300 residents. Residents of the area have been evacuated to the Danvers High School where temporary shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay. Donations are being taken for residents affected by the explosion. Residents are also being told to start filing insurance claims right away and to keep track of their expenses for items bought.

There were minor environmental concerns due to water runoff of chemicals. According the Environmental Protection Agency‘s on-scene coordinator Mike Nalipinski, preliminary tests showed low levels of toluene, a solvent, but said it was nothing of significance. Water runoff from the water used by firefighters left a purple sheen on the river and tests were being conducted. However, the water is not a local drinking water supply and the chemical evaporates quickly. Chief Tutko said there was no risk of toxic fumes getting into the air.

An Eastern Propane facility was also located near the area, however, it was not the source of the explosion. A spokesman for the company said that although the property suffered some minor damage, their tanks are secure.

According to WHDH television, a person who answered the telephone at CAI’s Georgetown, Massachusetts headquarters refused comment, and a telephone message left at the company president’s home was not immediately returned.

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