Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Deadly Gas Blasts Destroy Homes in Boston

Deadly Gas Blasts Destroy Homes in Boston

Boston: A man was killed while several others were injured after a series of explosions and fires rocked around 40 homes and businesses in three towns in MA on Thursday, according to the Essex County District Attorney's office.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was inside his auto when a chimney from a house explosion fell on his vehicle, the Essex County District Attorney's office said. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said residents in the southern part of the city had been asked to leave their homes whether or not they were Columbia Gas customers, due to planned power cuts.

Emergency crews are scrambling to douse house fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, north of Boston, and gas and electricity lines are being turned off in an attempt to stop further damage.

The Columbia Gas company had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened.

Flanked by community leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Gov. Charlie Baker vowed, "we'll work with the federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties responsible for their actions".

North Andover Police advised residents with gas service in their house to evacuate, "Multiple house fires at homes with Gas service".

The teenager was taken to hospital but pronounced dead at 8.30pm, while 12 patients are being treated for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma.

State officials told residents who have gas service from Columbia Gas of MA to evacuate their homes immediately and said gas lines were being depressurized by the company.

Bruce Razin, who was among the evacuees and saw a neighbours house destroyed said: "I couldn't imagine if that was my house". Schools in all three communities were cancelled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

The explosions caused widespread confusion and panic as officials and homeowners alike struggled to understand what was happening - with some worrying whether their properties would be next.

A map posted by Massachusetts State Police shows dozens of explosions and fires spread over the area. Just a few streets down, he said, homes were burning. "My first thought was this is a gas explosion".

Lawrence City Councillor Marc Laplante said "people need to get out ..."

Officials in Andover, a town of 35,000 residents had advised all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border.

Laurie Williams, 55, who lives in North Andover, said she drove home to find police and fire vehicles blocking streets near her home, and found out three nearby buildings were in flames.

Warren and Seaman said the last time they responded to MA for a major blaze was the Malden Mills factory fire in Lawrence in 1995.

Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month "due to hit line by a third party", according to Columbia Gas.

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