Deadly gas blasts destroy homes north of Boston


The town of 35,000 residents is about 40 kilometres north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

Ken Stammen, a NiSource spokesman, said in an email he could not confirm the details cited in the analyst note. "We are saddened to learn of the death of a young man as a result of these events", the statement read. "We are focused on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities", the company said in the statement.

In Andover a robocall was made to residents asking them to shut off the gas in their homes, but people on social media were asking how to do so and expressing confusion.

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

Authorities said nothing to indicate any foul play was suspected. Columbia Gas noted that it would be "an extended restoration effort, and we will work tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers".

Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter that 70 fires, explosions or reports of gas odors had been reported to authorities.

Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said, "How long is it going to take?"

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. The blast leveled the Scores Gentleman's Club, injuring about 20 people and damaging dozens of other buildings.

"There could be still a gas leak in your home", Rivera said.

A house at 85 Colonial Road in Lawrence was actively smoking as firefighters hosed it down just after 5 p.m.

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 told a news conference.

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Bruce Razin, who was among the evacuees and saw a neighbours house destroyed said: "I couldn't imagine if that was my house. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover", he told reporters.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told USA Today there are 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.

By 7:00pm local time, officials in Andover said all fires in the town had been extinguished.

The State Police Fusion Center said the gas explosions and reports were "spread across a wide swath" of South Lawrence, North Andover and in North Lawrence.

"It's definitely a scary situation at the moment", he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker said 10 other people were injured Thursday in a series of fires and explosions that authorities blame on over-pressurized natural gas lines.

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said his department sent Truck 7, a district fire chief, and a rescue unit to join a task force of area fire crews meeting in Derry at Exit 4 off Interstate 93.

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

Officials have said that between 60 and 80 fires and a number of explosions broke out in homes and businesses in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover that are located approximately 30 miles (45km) north of Boston.

Trooper Eric Fairchild, who is the mission's tactical flight officer, was using the helicopter's Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera when he noticed something under the pavement at the intersection of Broadway and Andover Street.