Series of explosions ignites more than 70 homes in MA

Series of explosions ignites more than 70 homes in MA

Kerry Wise
September 15, 2018

We are grateful for the community's patience, as well as the tremendous support we have received from our first responder and law enforcement partners.

Early on Friday (Saturday NZT), the utility issued a statement saying its crews need to visit each of the 8600 affected customers to shut off each gas metre and conduct a safety inspection.

Medeiros said: "The entire town smelled like gas".

- A buildup of natural gas triggered an explosion and fire that killed seven people in apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2016. Columbia Gas noted that it would be "an extended restoration effort, and we will work tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers".

Neighborhoods were evacuated in northern Massachusetts Thursday following a series of explosions and fires apparently caused by a faulty gas line.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it appeared the gas lines had become over-pressurised.

Authorities said an 18-year-old man has died after a house exploded amid gas explosions north of Boston, sending a chimney crashing into his auto. At least 25 other people reportedly were injured.

Meanwhile, there are fears that the number of fires may rise, as police say the reports keep coming in.

A house burns in Lawrence, Mass., Sept. 13, 2018.

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters the explosions "looked like Armageddon, it really did", according to the Associated Press. Six people were being treated at Lawrence General Hospital, spokeswoman Jill McDonald Halsey said.

In neighboring North Andover, town Selectman Phil Decologero said that his entire neighborhood had gathered in the street, afraid to enter homes.

He said there were so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

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Mansfield, the Andover fire chief, said 35 fires were put out across the town, and that "at least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians". A gas leak had been reported before that blast.

According to the State Police, the incidents initially were being blamed on over-pressurized gaslines.

Almost 20 hours after the emergency began, Columbia Gas had still not addressed the public.

At least 30 homes and businesses caught fire in Andover, and active fires were reported in Lawrence as of early Friday morning, several hours after initial reports surfaced, fire officials said.

Markey said he and Warren are calling for a Congressional hearing aimed at figuring out what caused the explosions and fires and to see if anyone needs to be held responsible. "We are coordinating with our law enforcement partners as expected and personnel are on scene, as we normally would be in a situation like this to assess the situation", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Fire investigators suspected "over-pressurisation of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of MA, a unit of the utility NiSource Inc, caused the explosions, Andover fire chief Michael Mansfield told a news conference.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate.

North Andover resident Laurie Williams, 55, said she drove home from work to find police and fire vehicles blocking streets near her home, and learned that three buildings nearby were on fire.

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".

Firefighters battle a house fire in North Andover, Massachusetts.

The helicopter crew "likely prevented another catastrophic event", State Police said. Students were waiting outside buildings for the gas to be shut off. "Safety is our top priority", it said.