6 families return to their homes after massive explosion at Mass. chemical plant

Sunday, November 26th 2006, 8:41 pm
By: News On 6

DANVERS, Mass. (AP) Six families moved back into their houses Sunday after a pre-dawn chemical plant explosion four days earlier drove them and hundreds of other residents from their homes.

The families were allowed to return after inspectors checked their homes to make sure utility connections and chimneys were still intact and safe.

``I'm a little apprehensive. It's a little nervous feeling,'' said Kathy Parker, who returned with her family, but said they remained on edge. ``I still don't feel comfortable in total darkness. Hopefully that will pass.''

The town 17 miles north of Boston probably will issue more occupancy permits Monday as inspectors sign off on safety checks at other houses, town manager Wayne Marquis said.

Residents closer to the obliterated building that housed CAI Inc. and Arnel Co. will have to find temporary lodging for several weeks or months until more significant repairs are completed at their homes.

The explosion early Wednesday damaged at least nine buildings beyond repair and are expected to be razed, town officials said. No one was killed or suffered any serious injuries.

State fire marshals were investigating the blast site, but state and local officials were denying access to representatives from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Local officials were angry at federal investigators, saying they had offered a possible explanation for the explosion before setting foot on the site.

Fire Chief James Tutko had said the federal investigators were ``uninvited'' and ``unwelcome.''

Chemical Safety Board spokesman Daniel Horowitz said the federal Clean Air Act authorized the board to enter the site and investigate, and to subpoena witnesses if necessary.