The Attorney General’s Office is working to make sure that residents affected by the fires and gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley have access to the resources they need to recover from this disaster. You can call our office’s Merrimack Valley Support Hotline at 617-573-5370 if you are having trouble with the restoration or claims process.
File a claim with Columbia Gas
Affected residents should make claims with Columbia Gas for all losses related to explosions and the associated disruption in gas service.
Make a claim with Columbia Gas by visiting a Columbia Gas claims center or calling the Columbia Gas claims helpline at 1-800-590-5571. Claims center locations and hours are posted on the Columbia Gas website. Make sure to save all receipts relating to your expenses.
Request temporary housing by calling the Columbia Gas temporary housing helpline at 1-800-590-5571, choosing a language, then choosing Option 3. Make sure to also ask about transportation and meal allowances.
If you are having a problem with the Columbia Gas claims process, please report it to the Attorney General’s Office.
Check Columbia Gas’s website for daily updates on your repair and restoration schedule
Get updates on your home’s estimated repair schedule and service restoration date on Columbia Gas’s website. The website provides estimated timeframes for when work will begin at individual homes through an interactive map and a 72-hour schedule. Use the interactive map to see your estimated gas ready, house ready, and relight date range.
If your home is shaded in yellow on the map, work is expected to begin within the next 72 hours. The 72-hour schedule also lists the specific street addresses where Columbia expects to begin work over the next three days. Check the interactive map and the 72-hour schedule regularly, as both are updated daily and may change. Columbia Gas and its contractors are also calling customers before making repair visits, so make sure you have provided Columbia Gas with updated contact information by calling 1-800-688-6160. (The interactive map may only work in mobile browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Edge. Try dropping a pin on the map if you are having trouble locating your address.)
Important information about the assessment and appliance/equipment repair and replacement process
Check the 72-hour schedule regularly to find out when Columbia Gas expects to begin work at your home. Keep in mind:
- An adult must be at the house for the work to take place.
- If you rent your home, it’s important to coordinate with your landlord to ensure work has been authorized.
If you own your home, you should decide whether you want to use the Columbia Gas Repair/Replace process, the Customer Repair/Replace process, or a combination of the two (such as accepting a standard furnace from Columbia Gas, but choosing a range or dryer for yourself).
- Under the Columbia Gas Repair/Replace process, Columbia Gas will order and install new equipment for you. However, in order to restore heat quickly, Columbia Gas may attempt to fix heating systems that can be repaired safety. Columbia will return to replace these heating systems before the start of the next heating system. You can choose whether you want:
- Columbia Gas to supply and install gas furnaces, boilers, water heaters, dryers, and ranges for you with standard equipment chosen by Columbia Gas; or
- Columbia Gas to order and install non-standard equipment for you (which may take longer).
- Under the Customer Repair/Replace process, you can obtain your own equipment and either (1) hire your own installer or (2) have Columbia Gas install the equipment for you. Columbia Gas will reimburse these costs or make payments to third parties on your behalf; however, Columbia Gas will only pay the “reasonable costs” of replacing your existing equipment with similar equipment. It is important that you coordinate closely with your Columbia Gas claims adjuster in order to ensure a smooth disbursement or reimbursement process. To use the Customer/Replace process, please contact the Columbia Gas claims center at 1-800-590-5571 or speak with your claims adjuster.
Guidance for Tenants and Landlords
As a first step, the Attorney General’s Office encourages landlords and tenants to discuss the situation and work cooperatively to try to resolve issues. Neither landlords nor tenants should suffer any financial loss. Columbia Gas is responsible for all losses caused by the gas explosions.
Landlords should file claims for rental income with Columbia Gas. Columbia Gas will pay rent to landlords for the period in which the rental property was without heat or hot water, regardless of whether the tenant has been withholding rent. As a condition of receiving this payment from Columbia Gas, the landlord must promise to refund the tenant for any rent paid by the tenant while the unit was without heat and/or hot water.
Tenants and landlords should be aware of their rights, duties, and protections under Massachusetts law. Tenants or landlords who are having problems can call the Attorney General’s Merrimack Valley Hotline at 617-573-5370 for help. Affected residents can request temporary alternative housing by calling Columbia Gas at 1-800-590-5571.