Gas explosions: Gov. declares state of emergency, police avert 'catastrophic event'

Pauline Gross
September 15, 2018

At least one person has been killed and many others injured after a series of reported gas explosions rocked towns north of Boston in MA.

Lawrence resident Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed in his auto when his home exploded and the chimney fell onto his vehicle, WCVB reports. Lawrence General Hospital said it had treated 13 people for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma.

In the midst of the massive public safety response to Lawrence Thursday night after a series of gas-related explosions, Massachusetts State Police detected a major gas leak underneath a city road through a helicopter's infrared camera, officials said.

The Columbia Gas company had announced early on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened.

"Residents in the affected towns of Lawrence/North Andover/Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so", state police tweeted.

A series of gas explosions an official described as "Armageddon" killed a teenager, injured at least 10 other people and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas.

"Everyone wants answers. And we deserve them", he said.

The National Transportation and Safety Administration was due to arrive by noon Friday. At least 18 fires were burning at the same time.

Chief Michael Mansfield requested through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, two additional fire task forces to respond to Andover.

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Columbia Gas, a unit of utility NiSource Inc, is investigating, NISource spokesperson Ken Stammen said on Thursday.

Officials were also shutting down power in the three towns, Massachusetts State Police said Thursday evening.

Massachusetts State Police say troopers are responding to the area to help secure areas after "multiple suspected gas explosions".

MA police say the explosions in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover rocked numerous neighbourhoods on Thursday afternoon and evacuations are underway where gas odours were present. 28 and Salem Street were allowed to return home early Friday • Power shut off to South Lawrence, parts of Andover and North Andover.

Andover Police Department Lieutenant Eddie Guy told NBC's Today television show Friday morning that officials believe the blasts were caused by over-pressurized gas lines. "We will support you and your family", Rivera said at a news conference Friday, speaking in English and Spanish.

Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month because of a line hit by a third party, according to the company. It said it was conducting safety checks and supporting first responders.

He said that placing a different utility company in charge will "make a big difference" in terms of getting information about the situation and acting to get people back to their homes.

His house burned almost to the ground, but after rushing home to check on his family and warn his neighbors to evacuate, he went back on patrol.

"Please do not enter your house unless you are accompanied by a gas company representative", the statement emphasized. Solomon, who's in Lawrence, says there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

Other reports by GizPress

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