Explosions damage many homes north of Boston

Gas Explosions in Massachusetts | Image Source: CNN / MGN

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) - The Latest on gas explosions in Massachusetts (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

The company that owns Columbia Gas said its crews are performing safety checks after a series of fires and explosions erupted in three communities north of Boston but did not explain what went wrong.

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.

State and local officials said at a news conference minutes earlier that they had still not heard from Columbia Gas following the fires in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. Gov. Charlie Baker later clarified that he thought the company's response was "adequate."

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

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

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8:20 p.m.

Officials said that at least six people have been injured in a series of fires and explosions north of Boston that authorities blame on over-pressurized natural gas lines.

Lawrence General Hospital said it's treating six patients from the gas explosions including two in critical condition.

Officials in Andover previously said at least three people, including a firefighter, had been injured in the town. It was not immediately clear if those were separate from the victims treated at Lawrence General.

State Police say at least 39 fires erupted Thursday afternoon in the communities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

Electricity is being cut to residents in all three communities as crews work to prevent further damage.

Officials in all three areas said school will be canceled on Friday.
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7:30 p.m.

Officials in Andover, Massachusetts, say at least three people, including a firefighter, have been injured in the town after a series of fires that authorities blame on a natural gas issue.

It was not immediately clear whether those injured were different from the four victims with fire-related injuries taken to Lawrence General Hospital.

Andover officials said in a statement that all 35 fires in the town have been extinguished.

At the peak of the situation, they said 18 fires were burning at the same time in Andover.

State Police said at least 39 fires erupted Thursday afternoon in the communities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

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7:15 p.m.

A man whose neighborhood was among dozens that erupted in fire in communities north of Boston says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Nam says he ran downstairs and saw that his boiler was on fire. He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

Minutes later, Nam says he heard a loud boom come from his neighbor's house and the ground shook. Nam said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house, but the basement was on fire.

Massachusetts State Police say officials will be shutting off power to all residents in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

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6:55 p.m.

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.

Lawrence General Hospital says it has treated four victims with fire-related injuries but did not immediately release their conditions or the severity of the injuries.

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6:45 p.m.

Authorities in Massachusetts said that a natural gas issue is to blame for at least 39 fires that erupted in homes across communities in Boston.

A spokesman for the Andover Police Department says residents in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover whose homes are serviced by Columbia Gas were urged to evacuate on Thursday afternoon.

Massachusetts State Police said Columbia Gas is working to depressurize gas lines in the area. A company spokeswoman did not immediately provide comment.

State Police said they have confirmed fires at 39 locations but warn the number will grow.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles north of Boston.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon in nearby Methuen said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky."



 
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