'It looked like Armageddon.' Homes burn in MA


Nearly 40 fires and explosions erupt in Massachusetts

Authorities named the dead teenager as Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his vehicle.

The National Transportation Safety Board have a team of investigators headed to the area, officials said.

MA police say the explosions in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover rocked numerous neighbourhoods on Thursday afternoon and evacuations are underway where gas odours were present.

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.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", said Michael Mansfield, Andover fire chief.

Before evacuating from North Andover, Jeremy Melvin described a chaotic scene near the plumbing shop where he works.

Firefighters battle a fire in a house in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA, 13 September 2018. Three people rushed out.

Mansfield, the Andover fire chief, said 35 fires were put out across the town, and that "at least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians". The cities are north of Boston. Six people were being treated at Lawrence General Hospital, spokeswoman Jill McDonald Halsey said.

The outlet also reported a handful of basement fires within Andover, hearing on the police scanner that evacuations were underway.

According to a release from Columbia Gas, the company was upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, with a focus on enhanced safety features. Andover, North Andover and Lawrence were included in the planned projects.

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Town officials in Andover are advising all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely.

Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant said in a separate news conference that he understands why the governor took control of the restoration effort away from his company, but he said his employees have been working hard.

A statement from Indiana-based NiSource said its "thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident" and that it appreciates the response from local emergency crews. A joint investigation "will be conducted when situation is stabilized".

"We are asking everybody with gas in their homes to leave their homes until further notice", North Andover town manager Andrew Maylor told one local television station. About 18,000 customers were without power.

A person is dead and dozens of homes have been set ablaze in a gas explosion fire in the USA state of MA.

"Mr. Rondon was inside a vehicle near 35 Chickering Rd in Lawrence when a chimney from a house explosion fell on the auto", according to a statement from the Essex County DA's office. Passengers on three were being moved by bus.

Bill Gibbs, the homeowner, arrived about 20 minutes after his neighbor called him to report the fire.

The Andover Senior Center and Andover Youth Center have been open for residents who have been displaced. City Councilor Marc Laplante said authorities were shutting off electric power and urging residents in the Colonial Heights neighborhood to head to Parthum elementary and middle schools. Some 400 people spent the night in shelters, and school was cancelled Friday as families waited to return to their homes.

All customers of Columbia Gas have been warned of possible further explosions.

According to the Methuen police chief, Joseph Solomon, 60 to 100 fires were burning across the area and several people were injured.

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