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Providing propane to those in need


On September 13, excessive pressure in natural gas lines caused a series of explosions, resulting in fires in as many as 40 homes in the Massachusetts towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. These lines were owned by the company Columbia Gas.

As records indicate, thousands of people were forced to shut off their gas service and evacuate their homes immediately after, including those who lost many of their personal belongings in the fires. With large groups of people displaced from their homes until their houses were rebuilt and safe to occupy, these three north Boston towns and the surrounding communities were forced to come up with a plan to provide shelter in a very short time period.

Who’s leading emergency relief efforts?

The veteran-led relief organization, Deployed Resources, put out a call for help, asking for food, water, and most importantly, a place for those displaced to seek shelter. Two major companies, Camping World and Campers Inn, heard about this devastating incident, and joined forces to provide recreational vehicles (RVs) for those who had nowhere else to turn. And of course, to power those RVs, they would need enough propane to make sure families had hot water and a cozy place to sleep every night. That’s where Ferrellgas and Blue Rhino answered the call.

Gary, a Ferrellgas Account Manager in the area, took it upon himself to help coordinate and lead the efforts to supply propane. Camping World and Campers Inn purchased hundreds of grill cylinders, and Blue Rhino drivers were sent on their way to several camp sites to deliver and aid with the set-up of the RVs.

As Gary mentions, the approximately 400 RVs, which are stationed on the outskirts of each of the towns affected, can be used at the convenience of those displaced. Whether that means stopping by to cook a quick meal, or making it a temporary home, the RVs are available 24 hours a day, requiring only a quick application process to be admitted. The current full-time-use occupancy rate for the RVs is just over 50 percent.

When will those displaced move back to their homes?

The estimated timeline for many to return to their homes is tentatively set to mid-November, prior to Thanksgiving celebrations. However, Gary mentions that because of how widespread the damages were, the timeline could run into the early winter months. Columbia Gas, the company responsible for the damages, has helped in the recovery efforts by providing hot plates for cooking, space heaters to warm homes, and has promised to pay the cost of increased electricity bills.

Ferrellgas is incredibly thankful to have Gary and his entire team helping communities across Massachusetts. The efforts of both Blue Rhino and Ferrellgas employee owners shows that we’re not just a propane company – we’re one large family, willing to do whatever it takes to help out those in need.

As this story develops, be sure to check in with us on our website, or reach out to organizations like Deployed Resources to find out what you can do to help.