Gas explosions, fires strike Boston suburbs


The blasts killed at least one person, injured 12 more and destroyed dozens of homes and other buildings in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence on Thursday.

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

"I was on my way to work", she said. "It was scary. We didn't know anything".

"Lawrence is coming together in a way we expected", Rivera said.

Pipeline work before the explosions creates "a higher potential for a financial impact to the utility", CreditSights Inc. analysts Nick Moglia and Andy DeVries said in a note to clients Friday. "This will not be an easy process and we ask for continued patience".

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

As pressure mounted Friday for gas company officials to provide answers about what happened, Sens. ALL FIRES HAVE BEEN EXTINGUISHED, however fire crews will remain in Andover throughout the evening. This is about getting people who live here safe. Gas shutoff valves can be found on the pipe leading from the ground to your gas meter, or on the service line between the meter and the home.

Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter that 70 fires, explosions or reports of gas odors had been reported to authorities.

Johnny Tran, who lives near the house where a teenager was killed by the blasts in Lawrence, was at home when the explosions occurred. It crashed into a nearby auto, fatally wounding a teenager who was inside.

Lawrence resident Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed in his auto when his home exploded and the chimney fell onto his vehicle, WCVB reports.

A house in Lawrence, Mass., is destroyed.

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

After the incident began, there were over 200 firefighters in Andover, according to John Guilfoil, a spokesman for the department.

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"This has been an overwhelming event", Mansfield said.

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

Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and said he had put the utility Eversource in charge of managing the recovery, after expressing frustration with Columbia Gas, which services the area. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also was sending investigators, the Boston Globe reported.

Nearly 18,000 customers were without power on Thursday evening because of the emergency switch-offs, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The blazes left 8,000 people unable to go home on Thursday. There were evacuations in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover - just north of Boston.

Schools were to be closed Friday in Lawrence and Andover. "However, it will take a number of years to eliminate the aging pipe from the gas distribution system".

Later Thursday night, Columbia Gas issued a statement asking people not to turn off their own gas, and not to open windows to ventilate.

Columbia had announced earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened.

Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month "due to hit line by a third party", according to Columbia Gas. It seemed obvious that there was some kind of problem with the gas lines but no one was too clear about what had started it.

These are gas-related fires. Eversource said it had conducted a safety "stand down" on Friday morning with all of its gas crews to reinforce their commitment to safety and their gas operating procedures.

"The focus remains on ensuring the public safety", said Baker.

"We are not sure that's going to be anytime soon. We will support you and your family", Rivera said at a news conference Friday, speaking in English and Spanish.