Suspected gas explosions rock towns near Boston, forcing evacuations

Gas Explosions in Massachusetts | Image Source CNN  MGN

Gas Explosions in Massachusetts | Image Source CNN MGN

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 2011 natural gas explosion killed five people in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and that state's largest gas utility was fined by regulators, who called the company's safety record "downright alarming".

At least six people were injured in the fires and explosions, including two in critical condition.

A home burned in a series of gas explosions sits next to an unaffected home in Lawrence, Massachusetts, September 14, 2018.

At least 10 other people were injured, one critically.

"Good thing I wasn't home or I wouldn't be talking about it", she said outside an elementary school in Lawrence that the Red Cross had converted into a shelter for about 170 people.

The cause of the explosions wasn't immediately clear. 28 and Salem Street were allowed to return home early Friday • Power shut off to South Lawrence, parts of Andover and North Andover.

A house is destroyed in Lawrence after a series of gas explosions in the area.

Meanwhile, there are fears that the number of fires may rise, as police say the reports keep coming in.

When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

"We took off. I said, 'Pack up, we're out of here, '" said Charest, who went with her 93-year old father and cat to a relative's home.

"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.

Thursday evening, homes erupted in flames across the three towns, consumed by more than 60 suspected gas fires.

The victims were taken to Lawrence General hospital and were treated for fire-related injuries.

"Numerous evacuations of neighborhoods where there are gas odors are underway", police said.

In a release dated Thursday the company had said it would "be upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state". "There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why".

Residents of north Boston in MA were asked to evacuate immediately after multiple fires and gas explosions were reported at 39 confirmed locations on Thursday.

Late into Thursday, crews were still scrambling to shut off gas lines, officials said.

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.

The AP additionally noted that State Police officers are now trying to secure areas where "multiple suspected gas explosions" took place.

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

Joseph Solomon, the police chief in nearby Methuen, said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence when he responded to help.

Residents and people working in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were urged to evacuate buildings or homes serviced by Columbia Gas after explosions and fires were reported.

She heard them over a police scanner her dad, a former Lawrence fire chief, keeps in their home. He said there were so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

Massachusetts State Police posted a map showing fires and explosions stretching across a swath of the community, saying "39 locations confirmed thus far".

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