Authorities Respond to Numerous Gas Explosions, Fires in Northern Massachusetts

It looked like Armageddon:’ Gas Explosions Destroy Homes In Boston	 	 	 			WBZ  Boston

It looked like Armageddon:’ Gas Explosions Destroy Homes In Boston WBZ Boston

"We are focussed on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities", the utility said in a statement.

Late into Thursday, crews were still scrambling to shut off gas lines, officials said.

Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant later defended the company's performance, saying the utility had remained in constant touch with state and federal officials.

State Police say Columbia Gas crews are working to depressurize gas lines in the area. CBS Boston reported that Columbia Gas was doing work in the area earlier on Thursday.

Authorities said an estimated 8,000 people were displaced at the height of Thursday's post-explosion chaos in three towns north of Boston that were rocked by the disaster.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has blamed the blasts on over-pressurised gas lines.

Leonel Rondon, an 18-year-old Lawrence resident, died after a house explosion sent a chimney crashing into his auto, the Associated Press reported.

At least four people are being treated for injuries after a series of fires north of Boston that authorities blame on a natural gas issue.

Local police reported "fires and explosions" at dozens of homes and other properties on Thursday evening.

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume the roof of a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield described the harrowing scene as, "Armageddon".

"I just always thinks its a mistake not to come out and talk to people so that they at least know what you know", Warren said.

At least three people, including one firefighter, were hurt in Andover, the town said in a statement.

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"You can't even see the sky", Solomon said. He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

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

The danger, at this point, is mainly from any pent-up gas that leaked and remains in homes.

In the past 20 years, about 100 people have died and 400 more have been hurt in major natural gas pipeline accidents investigated by the NTSB.

Fire investigators suspected "over-pressurization of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of MA led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said at a news conference.

Anderson said the hospital regularly trains for these kinds of situations.

The Columbia Gas company, a unit of NiSource Inc, had said earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions occurred, but it was not immediately clear whether any work was being done in those communities.

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

One incident may have been prevented by a State Police helicopter crew.

Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in the three communities to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggled to understand what was happening.

Tactical flight officer and Trooper Eric Fairchild was monitoring the aircraft's forward looking infrared camera "when he observed an anomaly under the pavement at the intersection of Broadway and Andover St".

If you have shut off the gas meter on your own, do not attempt to turn service back on, but rather wait for additional instructions.

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