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Pressure inside Columbia Gas pipes was 12 times higher than normal

The excessive amount of pressure was revealed in letters U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren sent on Monday demanding answers about the incident.

Ana Gonzalez swept water from frozen items that had melted at Carleen's Coffee Shoppe in South Lawrence. –Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The pressure inside pipes carrying natural gas through three Merrimack Valley communities was recorded to be at least 12 times higher than it should have been Thursday when dozens of gas-fueled explosions and fires erupted, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren said Monday, citing briefings from federal regulators.

The excessive amount of pressure was revealed in letters the two lawmakers sent on Monday demanding answers about the incident from the heads of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, its parent company NiSource, and federal regulators at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, giving both a deadline of Wednesday to answer.

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“We write to request that you provide us with information in order to help the American people understand why this terrible disaster occurred, whether the company was sufficiently prepared to respond to an incident of this magnitude, and how we can prevent any similar tragedy in the future,’’ the letter to company executives said.