Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Fires, explosions erupt in multiple US towns near Boston

EPA-EFE  REX  Shutterstock Firefighters gain entrance into a house through a basement window to check the gas line in Lawrence Massachusetts USA 13 September 2018. A series of reported gas explosions in CJ GUNTHER EPA Shutterstock Firefighters gained entrance into a house through a basement window to check the gas line in Lawrence on Thursday
Ellis Copeland | 15 September, 2018, 04:31

On the other hand, if the company and fire officials do have a good idea of what happened, residents should be told that as well.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed when a chimney collapsed on his auto following a series of explosions in the towns of Lawrence, North Andover, and surrounding communities about 30 miles north of central Boston, BuzzFeed News reports. Just a few streets down, he said, homes were burning. "We have not been able to confirm that, we have not yet spoke to anybody from Columbia Gas to confirm that and we are waiting to get updated from them as we speak".

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told The Eagle-Tribune that he's "never seen anything like this".

"I would say that we've advanced this as rapidly as it could possibly be advanced", he told reporters. "It was scary. We didn't know anything". When he looked at his bill and saw it was Columbia Gas - the company who owns the gas line that ruptured - he said: "I'm out of here".

"There's a lot more work that's left to be done", Gov. Baker said.

"We ask for continued patience as this important work is done", he added.

Massachusetts State Police say troopers are responding to the area to help secure areas after "multiple suspected gas explosions".

"Right now, our efforts and attention are focused on the communities and people affected by this tragedy", AGA said. This is about getting people who live here safe.

"When you return to your home, if the gas is turned off, under no circumstances should you turn it back on", Schwartz said.

Some residents who were inconvenienced, like Tran, slept in their cars.

Authorities named the dead teenager as Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his vehicle.

Flames rise from a house in Lawrence, Mass., Sept. 13, 2018.

Minutes later, Nam says he heard a loud boom come from his neighbor's house and the ground shook.

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Two people, including a firefighter, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said town spokesman John Guilfoil.

"This has been an overwhelming event", Mansfield said.

Schools, courts and many public services were to remain closed on Friday.

Initial reports to authorities began around 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, and the Massachusetts State Police said it had received at least 70 reports of fires and natural gas odors.

Andover responded and put out 35 total fires in Andover.

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.

The crisis spanned Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, according to The Eagle-Tribune.

He said the National Transportation Safety Board was also sending a team headed by its chairman, Robert Sumwalt, to investigate the disaster. Columbia Gas had the two most costly incidents - one in Springfield in 2012 and Canton in 2015.

"Our mission is to find out what happened, so that we can learn from it and keep it from happening again", he said.

BRYAN EATON/Staff photo. Evacuees enter the Parthum School in Lawrence to be checked in on Thursday night. Andover, North Andover and Lawrence were included in the planned projects.

Gas lines were being depressurized by the company. It's unclear whether that incident was related to Thursday's fire and explosions. Eversource said it had conducted a safety "stand down" on Friday morning with all of its gas crews to reinforce their commitment to safety and their gas operating procedures.

Its parent company said Columbia Gas crews were performing safety checks, but did not explain what went wrong. "We will support you and your family", Rivera said at a news conference Friday, speaking in English and Spanish.

The explosions and emergency response caused Amtrak to cancel four train routes between Boston and Maine.

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