LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — A $1 million emergency loan fund has been set up for Massachusetts businesses directly impacted by a series of natural gas explosions and fires.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and officials from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover announced the fund on Friday.

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No payments and no interest will be required during the first six months of each loan made to eligible businesses. If the loan extends beyond six months, market rates would then apply.

Businesses can begin applying for the loans on Monday and officials hope to process applications within 48 hours.

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The Sept. 13 blasts killed one person, injured some 25 others and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and businesses.

Officials say Columbia Gas, the utility that serves the area, contributed a $250,000 loan loss reserve for the fund.

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