NH firefighters help battle Mass. fires; evacuations announced in three towns

Teenager killed as 'gas explosions' set homes ablaze

Massachusetts State Police are urging anyone whose homes are serviced by Columbia Gas in the area to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggle to understand what was happening.

Liberty Utilities spokesperson John Shore said the company has on-call technicians standing ready to help Columbia Gas.

At least 39 homes were damaged, including one that was razed.

Some 8,000 people in Boston's suburbs had little hope of returning home soon as investigators scrambled on Friday to find out the cause of dozens of gas explosions that destroyed scores of homes in the biggest such accident in almost a decade.

Andover and North Andover are updating lists of streets where homes have been inspected and cleared on their websites.

Massachusetts State Police released a statement saying: "Incidents are across a wide swath of dozens of blocks across Lawrence and North Andover".

Streets were plunged into darkness as electricity lines were disabled to prevent further damage.

Officials in all three areas said school will be canceled on Friday.

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.

At least 13 patients were taken to Lawrence General Hospital as a result of the gas fires.

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.


"First time I've ever been in a shelter so it's all new to me", said Celia Monty. He said all fires are fully extinguished.

Minutes later, he said he heard a loud booming sound from his neighbor's house.

At the height of the disaster, Michael Rivera, who narrowly escaped a house fire, said his city "looked like a war zone".

Residents who were evacuated "should expect that the restoration process will take several days or longer", Andrew Maylor, the town manager of North Andover, said on Twitter.

At least four people are being treated for injuries after a series of fires north of Boston that authorities blame on a natural gas issue.

The November 2012 explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts, was caused when a Columbia employee accidentally punctured a gas line while probing for a leak.

Local police reported "fires and explosions" at dozens of homes and other properties on Thursday evening. 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.

Columbia had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. "It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment". "Number will grow. New responses ongoing". More than 50 fire vehicles and 10 ambulances responded.

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

Kingston Fire Chief Bill Seaman said he sent six firefighters from his department, but he had more who were willing to go.

Flanked by community leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover Thursday night, 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".

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