Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Gas Explosions Set Dozens Of Homes Ablaze In Multiple Boston-Area Communities

EPA-EFE  REX  Shutterstock Firefighters gain entrance into a house through a basement window to check the gas line in Lawrence Massachusetts USA 13 September 2018. A series of reported gas explosions in CJ GUNTHER EPA Shutterstock Firefighters gained entrance into a house through a basement window to check the gas line in Lawrence on Thursday
Deanna Wagner | 14 September, 2018, 18:10

A series of gas explosions has ignited fires in dozens of homes in MA - killing one person and injuring at least 12 others.

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.

The outlet also reported a handful of basement fires within Andover, hearing on the police scanner that evacuations were underway.

The residents of the three communities north of Boston, serviced by Columbia Gas, have been ordered to evacuate after a reported gas line rupture triggered a series of violent explosions.

Earlier Thursday before the fires broke out, the utility company that services the area announced it would be upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state.

Flanked by community leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Gov. Charlie Baker vowed, "we'll work with the federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties responsible for their actions".

Massachusetts State Police posted a map showing fires and explosions stretching across a swath of the community, saying "39 locations confirmed thus far". At least 18 fires were burning at the same time. It was not immediately clear if any of those were from Andover.

At least one person has died and 12 people have been injured in the explosions.

State police urged residents served by Columbia Gas to evacuate their homes. Lawrence General Hospital said it had treated 13 people for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma.

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In a statement, the FBI's Boston branch said they are investigating the explosions, but said: "There are no indications this incident is related to terrorism".

State officials said Columbia Gas was working to ease pressure on gas lines following the fires. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not return calls.

Massachusetts State Police said there were 70 responses to fires, explosions and investigations of gas odor.

- A buildup of natural gas triggered an explosion and fire that killed seven people in apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2016. Joseph Solomon, a police chief in the town of Lawrence, said there were so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

Officials in Andover, a town of 35,000 residents had advised all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely. "What we need folks to do is that if it's happening in your home, you have a amusing smell, just evacuate, come out to the street", he said.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", said Michael Mansfield, Andover fire chief.

"People need to get out of this area safely, and it's really hard because the traffic right now is horrendous", he said.

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. The integrity management system of the pipeline operator Columbia Gas.