Gas explosions, fires reported in Massachusetts towns

Gas explosions: Gov. declares state of emergency, police avert 'catastrophic event'

Gas explosions: Gov. declares state of emergency, police avert 'catastrophic event'

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume a home.

The 18-year-old man, named 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, reported CNN. He was rushed to a Boston hospital and pronounced dead Thursday evening.

Massachusetts State Police said electricity was being shut off for all residents in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, where some were still reporting an odour linked to natural gas. Some 400 people spent the night in shelters, and school was canceled Friday as families waited to return to their homes.

On Thursday, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield described the unfolding scene as "Armageddon".

People cover their faces to protect themselves from heavy smoke.

Columbia Gas is investigating, NISource spokesman Ken Stammen said on Thursday.

In Andover a robocall was made to residents asking them to shut off the gas in their homes, but people on social media were asking how to do so and expressing confusion.

"We continue to prepare for multiple casualties", the hospital said.

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

On its website, Columbia Gas had posted a note to ma customers that it was upgrading natural gas lines "in neighborhoods across the state" to enhance safety and reliability.

It was not clear whether work was happening there at the time, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment. Andover, North Andover and Lawrence projects were included.

Firefighters are at the scene extinguishing a gas explosion in the US.

The streets were darkened after nightfall with power cut off to the area as a precaution.

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"I couldn't imagine if that was my house", he said. "It's total destruction. I'd be completely devastated".

The incident, in an area that's home to the famous Phillips Academy Andover whose alumni include George W. Bush and Humphrey Bogart, took place just as Hurricane Florence slammed the coast of the Carolinas farther south on the East Coast, threatening to leave 3 million homes and businesses without power.

In Lawrence, a man whose neighbourhood was among dozens that erupted in fire says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing.

Ra Nam, a Lawrence resident, said he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off about 4:30pm.

When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, 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.

At least six people have been admitted to a hospital in Lawrence with fire-related injuries, including two in critical condition, according to reports.

Aerial footage showed firefighters tackling blazes at several properties. Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said that there were so many fires at a particular time that you could not even see the sky.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 40km north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border. Lawrence, the largest, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000.

Flames rise from a house after a series of gas explosions in the city.

Columbia Gas has been shutting off all service to customers in all three towns, MPS officials said in a tweet. At least 25 other people reportedly were injured.

An infrared camera used in a Massachusetts State Police helicopter helped detect a gas leak, likely preventing "another catastrophic event" in Lawrence.

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