What to Know About the Suspected Gas Explosions in MA

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

At least one person has been killed and others injured after a series of suspected gas explosions rocked towns north of Boston in MA on Thursday evening.

Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon was killed inside a auto in Lawrence when a chimney fell on his vehicle from a house explosion, a spokeswoman with the Essex County District Attorney's office said. (Mary Schwalm/AP) Bruce Razin, 59, talks to his family on his cell phone outside his evacuated neighborhood Thursday in Lawrence.

Evacuations are now underway, forcing entire neighbourhoods to clear the area as crews scramble to douse the flames and shut off gas and electric lines in an attempt to prevent further damage. "It just went up, it sounded like we were being bombed", she said with her son Ryan outside the North Andover middle school where residents were evacuated.

Police said the explosions and fires erupted in a cluster of towns north of Boston.

"We're also sending Engine 2 directly to a fire burning of Route 114 in Lawrence right now", said Goonan.

It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has blamed the blasts on over-pressurised gas lines.

Residents in the aforementioned towns that are serviced by Columbia Gas of MA "should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so", police advised.

Troopers had been dispatched to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to secure scenes and help traffic that has snarled roads as panicked residents attempt to flee their neighborhoods amid the afternoon rush hour, Massachusetts State Police said.

It is believed the explosions were caused by gas leaks.

A company spokesman said: "Columbia Gas is investigating what happened on its system today". No other information on a timeline or work required was immediately available from the company.

That occurred when a Columbia Gas technician called to investigate a gas odor at a nightclub accidentally punctured a line, the state Department of Public Utilities said in a report. "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".

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told the Associated Press there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he is in contact with first responders and is actively monitoring the situation.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 42 kilometres north of Boston. Lawrence, the largest of them, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000.

"We're going to get through this together", Mayor Dan Rivera told reporters as emergency lights illuminated smoke in the night sky nearby.

Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month "due to hit line by a third party", according to Columbia Gas. State police received between 60 and 100 reports of fires and gas explosions in the Merrimack region.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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