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15 September 2018, 04:32 | Devin Moran
1 dead, 12 injured after 70 fires, gas explosions reported in US; three towns evacuated
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.
State Police's Air 5 helicopter was hovering over Lawrence, providing firefighters with aerial support, around 11 p.m. when the gas leak was detected, State Police saidin a statement. Six people were being treated at Lawrence General Hospital, said spokeswoman Jill McDonald Halsey.
Dr. Earl Gonzales says that patient requires additional surgery.
"It's definitely a scary situation at the moment", he said.
State officials told residents who have gas service from Columbia Gas of MA to evacuate their homes immediately and said gas lines were being depressurized by the company.
The cause remains under investigation.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said he urged Columbia Gas to develop a "comprehensive safety inspection plan". Gas shutoff valves can be found on the pipe leading from the ground to your gas meter, or on the service line between the meter and the home.
Residents in three communities north of Boston are being told to evacuate their homes after multiple explosions and fires in the area. It said it was conducting safety checks and supporting first responders.
Even if she could go home Friday, she said she wanted to stay on and volunteer.
John Fluegge was one of about 100 people who spent the night on a cot in the North Andover High School gymnasium, which was converted into an emergency shelter.
The State Police Fusion Center said the gas explosions and reports were "spread across a wide swath" of South Lawrence, North Andover and in North Lawrence. Most were still waiting, shaken and exhausted, to be allowed to return to their homes.
Firefighters battle a large structure fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
Lawrence police Chief Roy Vasque told local paper The Eagle-Tribune that he's "never seen anything like this".
Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, was killed after a house explosion sent a chimney falling onto his auto, according to the Essex District Attorney's Office.
Gov. Charlie Baker said, "The depressurization of the lines in the shutdown was created to ensure that there would be no more fires this evening", although he added firefighters will continue to extinguish fires throughout the night.
- In 2014, a gas explosion in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood killed eight people and injured about 50.
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.
An agency spokesman said during a news conference in Washington on Friday that pipelines are within the agency's jurisdiction.
"Certainly things we will be looking at will be the design of the pipeline system, any maintenance or upgrades that may have been done or in the process of being done on the pipeline, the integrity management system of the pipeline operator", he said. "We're going to be here to make sure that that happens".
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, he said, serves a residential/commercial (res/com) load "in a fairly small area around Lawrence, MA".
State police put the tally of fires and explosions at 70, up from the 39 initially reported.
Authorities in MA say a natural gas issue is to blame for at least 39 fires that erupted in homes across communities north of Boston. The blasts also left more than 18,000 homes and businesses without power.
An 18-year-old man died after a house exploded amid gas explosions north of Boston, sending a chimney crashing into his vehicle.
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