Monday, 19 November, 2018

Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston

WCVB  APFlames rise from a house in Lawrence Mass. Sept. 13 2018 WCVB APFlames rise from a house in Lawrence Mass. Sept. 13 2018
Jeannette Daniel | 14 September, 2018, 18:10

At least one person has been killed and others injured after a series of suspected gas explosions rocked towns north of Boston in MA on Thursday evening.

The victim, Leonel Robson of Lawrence, died after being rushed to hospital in Boston when a chimney from an exploding house crashed onto his vehicle on Thursday.

"Numerous evacuations of neighbourhoods where there are gas orders are underway".

Emergency officials, meanwhile, are urging people to get out of their houses and evacuate their neighborhoods in the three communities as firefighters battle dozens of gas explosions that leveled some houses and set fire to others over a large area.

Hours before the explosions, the company had unveiled plans to upgrade gas lines across MA, including in the areas where the blasts happened.

Epping Fire Chief Don DeAngelis said his firefighters were asked to respond to a school in North Andover where they would be staged, along with Brentwood fire crews.

Massachusetts State Police said around 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odour had been reported.

Gas explosions and subsequent fires on Thursday evening caused one death, multiple injuries and widespread damage in the Merrimack Valley, namely Lawrence, North Andover and Andover.

During a Friday press conference at Reagan National Airport, Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that while the NTSB normally investigates incidents such as crashes, it is in charge of this situation because pipelines are a "mode of transportation" for natural gas.

The streets were darkened where authorities had cut off electricity and were shutting down gas service in an effort to stop further blazes.

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston flames consume a home in Lawrence Mass a suburb of Boston Thursday Sept. 13 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes
The Associated Press

Lawrence City Councilor Marc LaPlante said, "The best I can make of this at this point is it is gas-related". Schools are closed Friday in Lawrence and Andover. "My first thought was this is a gas explosion".

The state police said gas lines are now being depressurized by the company but warned that may take some time.

NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said Columbia Gas was investigating.

"Gas lines are now being depressurised", police said on Twitter, adding that "it will take some time". It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

By 7:00pm local time, officials in Andover said all fires in the town had been extinguished.

He said: "It's definitely a scary situation at the moment".

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles north of Boston. Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said that there were so many fires at a particular time that you could not even see the sky.

"Right now, we're just trying to keep people safe".

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators. Anyone in those towns who has gas service from Columbia Gas should leave their homes until further notice.

More news: Secure Says Nearly All Modern Computers Vulnerable to Cold Boot Attacks

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