'IT LOOKED LIKE ARMAGEDDON': Gas explosions destroy dozens of homes

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

An 18-year-old man died when a chimney fell on his auto, and another 10 people were injured in the fires and explosions, which affected the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on Thursday afternoon.

Lawrence resident Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed in his auto when his home exploded and the chimney fell onto his vehicle, WCVB reports. Andover, North Andover and Lawrence projects were included.

Dozens of homes have been destroyed and entire neighbourhoods evacuated after a series of sudden gas explosions north of Boston, in the USA state of MA. There were 38 fires in Andover alone and at the peak of the incident, 18 fires were burning at the same time.

At least six people have been admitted to a hospital in Lawrence with fire-related injuries, including two in critical condition, according to reports.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators.

Scores of homes have been damaged in the inferno.

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

Late on Thursday Lawrence resident Bruce Razin was among the evacuees standing outside the Colonial Heights neighbourhood near the city's high school trying to decide what to do next.

He says all residents should evacuate their homes if they smell gas.

"Columbia Gas is investigating what happened on its system today", NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said.

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State police now puts the tally of fires and explosions at 70, up from the 39 initially reported, with the number expected to grow.

It was not clear whether work was happening there at the time, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

"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. Some 50 fire departments responded to the emergency, said John McArdle, fire chief of Plaistow, New Hampshire, which sent a tower ladder and engine crew to the scene.

Andover officials say in a statement that all 35 fires in the town have been extinguished.

"People need to get out of this area safely, and it's really hard because the traffic right now is horrendous", he said.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 42 kilometres north of Boston.

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.

Warren and Seaman said the last time they responded to MA for a major blaze was the Malden Mills factory fire in Lawrence in 1995.

Mayor Dan Rivera said: "Lawrence is a very resilient community".

Early Friday, the utility issued a statement saying its crews need to visit each of the 8,600 affected customers to shut off each gas meter and conduct a safety inspection.

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