One dead in MA after gas explosions ignite dozens of fires

Teenager killed as 'gas explosions' set homes ablaze

"We are focused on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities", the company said in the statement.

Columbia Gas employee Brian Jones shines a flashlight so his partner, using a wrench, can shut off the gas in a home Friday in Andover.

Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant wouldn't comment on the suspected cause of the blasts, deflecting questions about his company's response but saying it had "substantive, lengthy conversations" with the authorities. CBS Boston reported that Columbia Gas was doing work in the area earlier on Thursday.

Massachusetts State Police said that the services responded to at least 70 cases of gas odour, explosions, and fires.

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

Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon was inside a auto in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when a chimney fell on the vehicle, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman with the Essex County District Attorney's office.

One person was killed when a chimney from an exploding house landed on his vehicle.

Police said they were dealing with explosions or fires in 39 locations.

Officials said dozens of fires and explosions were reported after an apparent gas line problem. Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4.30pm on Thursday, local time.

Andover town officials say two firefighters and two civilians were injured in that community.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told USA Today there are so many fires, "you can't even see the sky". ALL FIRES HAVE BEEN EXTINGUISHED, however fire crews will remain in Andover throughout the evening.

A fire engine is seen near a building emitting smoke after explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, US, September 13, 2018.

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.

According to the State Police, the incidents initially were being blamed on over-pressurized gaslines. "However, it will take a number of years to eliminate the aging pipe from the gas distribution system".

Troopers had been dispatched to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to secure scenes and help traffic that has snarled roads as panicked residents attempt to flee their neighborhoods amid the afternoon rush hour, Massachusetts State Police said. It said it was conducting safety checks and supporting first responders.

The Columbia Gas company had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened.

Experts from state regulatory agencies, as well as federal officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Department of Transportation's Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration were on scene to investigate the incident.

All that changed in the aftermath of Thursday's gas explosions across three suburbs north of Boston that left at least one person dead, injured at least a dozen more, and drove thousands from their homes.

Tactical flight officer and Trooper Eric Fairchild was monitoring the aircraft's forward looking infrared camera "when he observed an anomaly under the pavement at the intersection of Broadway and Andover St".

Firefighters battle a house fire in North Andover, Massachusetts.

"Through their attention to detail, the crew of MSP Air 5 likely prevented another catastrophic event", State Police said.

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