Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston

Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston

Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston

Red Cross reception centers were setup at the Andover Senior Center and Youth Center, North Andover High School, as well as Parthum and Arlington Schools in Lawrence.

NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said Columbia Gas was investigating.

Gas and electricity remained shut off Friday in most of the area, and entire neighbourhoods were eerily deserted.

Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant wouldn't comment on the suspected cause of the blasts, deflecting questions about his company's response but saying it had "substantive, lengthy conversations" with the authorities.

The company that owns Columbia Gas says its crews are performing safety checks after a series of fires and explosions erupted in three communities north of Boston, but did not explain what went wrong.

Nearly 18,000 customers had been left without power because of the emergency switch-offs, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The 18-year-old man, named Leonel Rondon, was inside a auto in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when a chimney fell on the vehicle, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman with the Essex County District Attorney's office, reported CNN. The San Bruno tragedy killed eight people and triggered more than $1 billion in fines and penalties.

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Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 miles per hour (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 miles per hour (20 kph). After that point, it would be hard for people in the storm's path to either finish preparations or flee affected areas.

State police received between 60 and 100 reports of fires and gas explosions in the Merrimack region.

Firefighters battle a large structure fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.

Officials said dozens of fires and explosions were reported after an apparent gas line problem.

Frank Lupa, a 79-year-old retiree in Lawrence, spent the night in a middle school along with other dislodged residents, and said he prayed as chaos descended on his neighbourhood.

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

In nearby Methuen, police chief Joseph Solomon said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence when he responded to help. He said there were so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

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

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Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick E. Keefe and Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said Andover fire responders had put out a total of 35 fires. A gas leak had been reported before that blast.

According to the State Police, the incidents initially were being blamed on over-pressurized gaslines. The integrity management system of the pipeline operator Columbia Gas.

Information about the full extent of the damage was not immediately available Thursday night, and authorities cautioned it was "far too early to speculate" on the cause of the explosions.

"Once the utilities secure the affected areas we'll work with the federal government to investigate how this occurred and who should be held accountable for the results and actions", Baker 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.

The US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said it was dispatching a team to support the state's emergency response efforts, an agency spokesperson said on Thursday.

One incident may have been prevented by a State Police helicopter crew.

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People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town. Affected areas will include South Carolina , North Carolina, and Virginia and now likely parts of Georgia.

Massachusetts State Police said officers responded to at least 70 reports of fires, explosions and investigations of gas odor as of Thursday evening.

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