Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston

Marsha Scott
September 15, 2018

Liberty Utilities spokesperson John Shore said the company has on-call technicians standing ready to help Columbia Gas.

Authorities are blaming over-pressurized gas lines and previously told all residents with Columbia Gas service in those areas to evacuate.

Authorities identified the 18-year-old killed when a series of gas explosions rocked a string of Boston suburbs on Thursday.

Andover and North Andover are updating lists of streets where homes have been inspected and cleared on their websites.

Dozens of homes have been destroyed and entire neighbourhoods evacuated after a series of sudden gas explosions north of Boston, in the USA state of MA.

Electricity is being cut to residents in all three communities as crews work to prevent further damage.

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

Officials have identified the victim as Leonel Rondon, of Lawrence.

Soon after 7 p.m., officials in Andover said all fires in the town had been extinguished.

A man whose neighbourhood was among dozens that erupted in fire says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing. Photos posted on social media show raging fires and thick plumes of black smoke billowing from the buildings.

State police put the tally of fires and explosions at 70, up from the 39 initially reported. The group was then immediately dispatched to Lawrence to meet up with other crews gathering at a staging area at the Showcase Cinemas site. He said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house but the basement was on fire.

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

At least 10 people, including a firefighter, were injured by the fires, according to the Associated Press. One of those patients, who was in critical condition, was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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- A 2011 natural gas explosion killed five people in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and that state's largest gas utility was fined by regulators, who called the company's safety record "downright alarming".

The town of 35,000 residents is about 26 miles north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

Local police reported "fires and explosions" at dozens of properties.

Columbia Gas has been shutting off all service to customers in all three towns, MPS officials said in a tweet.

The Columbia Gas company announced earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. "Number will grow. New responses ongoing".

In nearby Methuen, police chief Joseph Solomon said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence when he responded to help.

Fire investigators suspected "over-pressurization of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of MA led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said at a news conference.

Kingston Fire Chief Bill Seaman said he sent six firefighters from his department, but he had more who were willing to go.

Emergency response teams responded to the incidents that affected residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, communities about a half hour north of Boston.

"Gas lines are now being depressurised", police said on Twitter, adding that "it will take some time".

The North Andover Police Department advised residents with gas service in their homes or businesses to "please exit the building until further notice".

It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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