MA explosions: At least 100 houses destroyed in 'gas leak'

At least one person died and 12 were injured after dozens of fires and suspected gas explosions erupted leading to mass evacuations from USA towns north of Boston, police said.

Authorities said Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died Thursday after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his auto.

Six patients were being treated at Lawrence General Hospital, CBS Boston reports.

The 58-year-old man said Friday he came home Thursday to find a note on the door of his apartment building telling everyone to leave because the gas and electricity were being shut off in response to several gas explosions and fires in the town.

"Senators Markey and Warren are asking to hear from regulators and the distribution company Columbia Gas to understand how this incident occurred and what must be done to ensure these types of unsafe accidents do not happen again", according to a joint news release.

Andover, North Andover and Lawrence projects were included.

Emergency response teams responded to the incidents that affected residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, communities about a half hour north of Boston.

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

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to MA to investigate.

Hundreds of residents have been told to evacuate their homes and there is a strong smell of gas in their air. At least 25 other people reportedly were injured.

Even though there was no immediate report on the case of the fire, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the gas lines that had become over-pressurized.

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"Columbia Gas is investigating what happened on its system today", said Ken Stammen, a spokesman for NiSource. "At peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time", they said, adding that all fires have been extinguished and fire crews will remain in the town throughout the evening.

Investigators are now scrambling to find out the cause of dozens of gas explosions.

MA police say the explosions in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover rocked numerous neighbourhoods on Thursday afternoon and evacuations are underway where gas odours were present.

As many as 33,000 people in the towns of Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover were urged to "evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so", though it is not yet known the exact total of people who evacuated.

It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

"On a number of very significant issues we heard one thing and something else happened", Baker said of Columbia Gas.

"Replacing leak-prone infrastructure is a leading priority", the utility said in April.

Entire neighborhoods were being evacuated in Lawrence. "Once utilities secure the affected areas, we will work with the federal government to investigate how this occurred and hold people accountable for their actions".

The Republican governor says he realizes the situation is a "massive inconvenience" but asked for patience.

Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant, speaking at a televised news conference on Friday, said, "We advanced this as rapidly as it could possibly be advanced".

Officials again stressed that residents allowed back into their homes would still be without power and must not turn their gas back on themselves, but rather call Columbia Gas for an appointment.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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