Mass. gas blasts injures at least 3

Casey GreeneSep 15, 2018

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.

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.

"This remains a tremendous inconvenience for many people", Baker said.

Massachusetts State Police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and the smell of gas in a widespread zone encompassing the east coast towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Warren visited Lawrence Friday to speak with local officials.

Ra Nam (right), with his sons Evan (left) and Tristan (center), wait in a parking lot outside their Colonial Heights neighborhood in Lawrence, Mass., which was evacuated Thursday because of the fires and explosions.

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.

"We're OK. They're just doing their jobs", she said.

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

Anderson says the hospital trains for and is prepared for such situations.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said residents won't be allowed to return home until crews inspect every home and make sure there are no more gas leaks. He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

He ran downstairs and discovered his boiler on fire - and minutes later, he heard a loud boom from his neighbour's house, causing the ground to shake.

"There are multiple basement fires in Andover".

State Police troopers and local police are helping evacuate residents.

- A buildup of natural gas triggered an explosion and fire that killed seven people in apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2016.

In a statement Friday, Columbia Gas said crew members are working to restore power with the help of other utility companies.

Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month because of a line hit by a third party, according to the company.

Authorities in MA say a natural gas issue is to blame for at least 39 fires that erupted in homes across communities north of Boston.

Officials 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, which are located around 30 miles (45km) north of Boston.

Since 2010, there have been 27 major incidents, 10 of which involved Columbia Gas - the most of any one utility company.

On Thursday, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield described the unfolding scene as "Armageddon".

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told the paper one home in the area had been "demolished" by a blast. "If you live in Lawrence, have a kid in Lawrence public school system, you have an address in Lawrence and you don't have documents, do not be afraid", he said. "It's some kind of gas issue", Andover Police Department spokesman Lt. Edward Guy told Massachusetts' Eagle Tribune newspaper earlier in the day.

The investigation into the cause - involving the National Transportation Safety Board and other federal agencies - is in its early stages, officials said.

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told The Eagle-Tribune that he's "never seen anything like this".

Residents cover their face from the smoke while being evacuated from homes as firefighters battle a fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries.

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