Authorities Respond to Numerous Gas Explosions, Fires in Northern Massachusetts

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Suspected gas explosions set homes ablaze

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Suspected gas explosions set homes ablaze

AN 18-YEAR-old man was killed and at least 12 others injured after a gas explosion sparked 70 blasts causing homes to go up in flames in MA last night.

Authorities said an estimated 8000 people were displaced at the height of Thursday's (Friday NZT) post-explosions chaos, though some were cleared to return to their homes in one of three towns north of Boston rocked by the disaster.

More than 85,000 homes in the state are without power.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said it would likely take investigators some time to examine the pipeline's design, maintenance and upgrades.

Around the same time, State Police said electricity was being shut off for all residents in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, where some were still reporting an odour tied to natural gas.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was sitting in a auto in Lawrence when the chimney from a house explosion fell on the vehicle. The agency's job, the spokesman said, is not to lay blame, but to determine what happened so it can be prevented from happening again.

The state Registry of Motor Vehicles said Rondon had just been issued his driver's license earlier Thursday. Schools in all three communities were cancelled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a statement saying: "Governor Baker is actively monitoring the situations in the Merrimack Valley and is communicating with first responders and public safety officials".

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State Police said it was "far too early to speculate" on the cause of the incidents.

LAWRENCE - Some 3,500 homes have already been cleared of risky gas leaks, but about 5,000 across Lawrence, Andover and North Andover remain, officials said at a press conference late Friday morning, but officials said the cause of the disaster has not yet been determined. The blast leveled the Scores Gentleman's Club, injuring about 20 people and damaging dozens of other buildings. A company spokeswoman did not immediately provide comment.

Fuegge, 58, called the situation "confusing more than frightening".

"Under no circumstance should you turn the gas back on", Schwartz said. Electric power was also turned off.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Boston. Lawrence, the largest of them, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000.

"Do not be afraid". Stay in the light. "We'll look at the emergency response, the system safety program of the pipeline operator".

"Lawrence is a very resilient community". He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter that 70 fires, explosions or reports of gas odors had been reported to authorities.

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Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said residents won't be allowed to return home until crews inspect every home and make sure there are no more gas leaks.

Andover town officials say at least four people were injured, including two firefighters and two civilians.

As of Thursday evening, authorities said they believed the incidents may have been caused by over-pressurized gas lines.

Aerial footage showed firefighters tackling blazes at several properties.

"You can't even see the sky", Solomon said.

State Police troopers and local police are helping evacuate residents.

Crews work to knock down a fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

Scores of homes have been damaged in the inferno. Minutes later, a loud boom came from his neighbor's home. "We're going to get through this together". "We know that all those fires at this point are out".

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