Mass. gas blasts injures at least 3

Saturday, 15 Sep, 2018

One person was killed Thursday as dozens of house fires burned in MA after reports of issues with the natural gas system.

There have been at least 70 explosions in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, with a ruptured gas pipeline being blamed.

Don't light a match or candle, or operate anything that could cause a spark, including home phones or cell phones, lights, appliances, flashlights, power tools, and the like.

Entire neighbourhoods were being evacuated in Lawrence.

Authorities said an 18-year-old man has died after a house exploded amid gas explosions north of Boston, sending a chimney crashing into his vehicle. Rondon had received his driver's license the very same day, his friend Anthony Gil told ABC News. "It's insane how this happened", said a friend, Cassandra Carrion.

The National Transportation Safety Board have a team of investigators headed to the area, officials said.

The fires were reported across a "wide swath of dozens of blocks across Lawrence and North Andover", the state police said.

East Kingston Fire Chief Ed Warren joined his crew on their way to a station in North Andover where they would be assigned.

An 18-year-old was killed and at least 10 others injured when a series of gas explosions and fires broke out in the three Merrimack Valley communities on Thursday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the area while expressing frustration with the utility company whose gas pipeline exploded. "My first thought was this is a gas explosion". Not all gas had been shut off by Thursday evening and some of the lines were overpressurized, officials said.

Dozens of others were injured. Students were waiting outside buildings for the gas to be shut off.

With a backpack filled with personal items he had hastily grabbed, he said he'd head to his mother's home a few towns over for the night.

According to North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor, there is actually an "abundance of food" at the North Andover High School shelter and they do not need any more food donations.

Fuegge, 58, called the situation "confusing more than frightening".

"Under no circumstance should you turn the gas back on", Schwartz said. Electric power was also turned off.

Warren and Seaman said the last time they responded to MA for a major blaze was the Malden Mills factory fire in Lawrence in 1995.

South Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera urged residents to stay away from their homes.

"Do not be afraid".

"We are at hour 23 and none of this is clear to anyone", Rivera said.

"Lawrence is one community", he said. It said it was conducting safety checks and supporting first responders.

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield described the harrowing scene as, "Armageddon".

"People have a right to know", Markey told reporters.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

At least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and two civilians, town officials said in a statement.

The Columbia Gas company had announced earlier that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. It was not clear whether work was happening there, and a spokeswoman did not return calls.

Aerial footage showed firefighters tackling blazes at several properties. Solomon, who's in Lawrence, says there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

Hundreds of residents have been told to evacuate their homes and there is a strong smell of gas in their air. The fire crews were from as far away as Foxborough and Oxford in central MA.