Boston gas explosions: Panicked neighbourhoods evacuate

US At least 70 fires blasts reported in three towns of Boston mass evacuations under way

Columbia Gas of MA, the NiSource unit responsible for the local network, said in a statement that its crews would need to visit each of the 8,600 affected customers to shut off each gas meter and carry out a safety inspection.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield said. "The least informed and the last to act has been Columbia Gas", he said of the utility's response.

Authorities are blaming over-pressurized gas lines and previously told all residents with Columbia Gas service in those areas to evacuate.

Authorities identified the 18-year-old killed when a series of gas explosions rocked a string of Boston suburbs on Thursday. Lawrence General Hospital reported that of 10 people that had been taken to the facility, one patient is in critical and one in serious condition. "I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover", he told reporters. Andover officials said a firefighter was among the injured.

The incident forced National Grid to cut power to all three communities, leaving an estimated 18,000 people in the dark.

Late on Thursday Lawrence resident Bruce Razin was among the evacuees standing outside the Colonial Heights neighbourhood near the city's high school trying to decide what to do next.

Thousands of people were still waiting to go home Friday after a series of gas explosions ignited fires in parts of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover Thursday evening.

Razin said he arrived just as residents were being evacuated, and immediately saw the house two doors down was leveled from an explosion.

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Andover responded and put out 35 total fires in Andover. Minutes later, a loud boom came from his neighbor's home.

"I think this house is done", she said sadly.

At least 100 buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged after explosions triggered fires in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts, close to the city of Boston.

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

Officials have identified the victim as Leonel Rondon, of Lawrence.

Residents in those areas with homes that are serviced by Columbia gas have been urged to evacuate.

That occurred when a Columbia Gas technician called to investigate a gas odor at a nightclub accidentally punctured a line, the state Department of Public Utilities said in a report. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not return calls.

Almost 40 fires and explosions broke out across several communities north of Boston, Massachusetts.

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While the cause of the terrifying explosions remains unclear, town officials in Andover are advising all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely.

"Far too early to speculate on cause", the state police tweeted, adding that a joint investigation will be conducted when the situations is stabilized.

As pressure mounted Friday for gas company officials to provide answers about what happened, Sens.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon says there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence. He said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

The Eagle-Tribune newspaper in North Andover reports at least one home has been destroyed and several others have caught fire amid a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

In the early hours of Friday the Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, described the incident as a "public safety event", but said officials were now "confident" there would be no further fires.

His house burned almost to the ground, but after rushing home to check on his family and warn his neighbors to evacuate, he went back on patrol.

It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries.

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