TEWKSBURY, Mass. – This year will mark the 52nd anniversary of the Tewksbury Gas Explosion, a tragic event that resulted in the loss of three lives. The Tewksbury Fire Department commemorated the 50th anniversary of the incident in 2022 and plans to hold public remembrances every five years.
The explosion occurred when a gas delivery vehicle accidentally backed into a pipe at the Chapman Road liquefied natural gas facility, owned by Lowell Gas at the time. The resulting blast was described by witnesses as lighting up the sky and producing a fireball that lasted for approximately 10 to 15 seconds. It was reported that pilots landing at Logan Airport could see the explosion.
As a result of the explosion, Tewksbury firefighter William John McAllister, delivery truck driver Arthur Sutcliffe of Lowell, and Billerica Fire Captain Donald Schultz lost their lives. Additionally, 11 months after the explosion, Tewksbury firefighter Captain Frederick Millett passed away from complications related to his injuries.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, safety improvements such as special shut off valves, the addition of protective gear for firefighters, and new construction protocols were developed and implemented. These measures aimed to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future and to ensure the safety of both the community and emergency responders.
The Town Crier would like to acknowledge the heroic efforts of all those who responded to the tragedy, as well as the support provided by the community and surrounding areas during such a difficult time.
The impact of the Tewksbury Gas Explosion is still felt today, and the anniversary serves as a time for remembrance and reflection on the lives lost and the lessons learned from this devastating event.