Mass evacuation underway after huge explosions near Boston

EPA-EFE  REX  Shutterstock Firefighters gain entrance into a house through a basement window to check the gas line in Lawrence Massachusetts USA 13 September 2018. A series of reported gas explosions in

Authorities identified the 18-year-old killed when a series of gas explosions rocked a string of Boston suburbs on Thursday. Lawrence General Hospital reported that of 10 people that had been taken to the facility, one patient is in critical and one in serious condition.

Live television images showed firefighters on high ladders, battling flames engulfing low-slung houses in Lawrence and North Andover, former mill towns about 40 km north of Boston.

Andover and North Andover are updating lists of streets where homes have been inspected and cleared on their websites.

More than three dozen homes went up in flames Monday when fires and explosions erupted in northern MA in what were believed to be gas-related incidents, authorities said. He outlined three issues he sought to resolve with Columbia - to gain an understanding of what happened and why, to get electricity restored to the area and get people back in their homes safely.

Officials have identified the victim as Leonel Rondon, of Lawrence.

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

A man whose neighbourhood was among dozens that erupted in fire says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

At the height of the disaster, Michael Rivera, who narrowly escaped a house fire, said his city "looked like a war zone".

North Andover town manager Andrew Maylor told reporters: "We are asking everybody with gas in their homes to leave until further notice".

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Columbia Gas posted an online note shortly after the first explosions that read: "Crews are now responding to reports of multiple fires in Lawrence, MA".

The town of 35,000 residents is about 26 miles north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

Police, fire, and utility crews will need to visit each of the approximately 8,600 affected homes to shut off and restart gas meters and conduct safety inspections before the homes are safe for normal activities.

Columbia Gas has been shutting off all service to customers in all three towns, MPS officials said in a tweet.

Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were included Thursday morning in an alert from Columbia Gas of MA telling customers on its website that it was "upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods" across the state. It was not clear whether work was happening there on Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.

State Police say they have confirmed fires at 39 locations but warn the number will grow.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told The Associated Press that up to 25 homes were on fire in the city of Lawrence alone.

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.

"Incidents are across a wide swath of dozens of blocks across Lawrence and North Andover", Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter.

Kingston Fire Chief Bill Seaman said he sent six firefighters from his department, but he had more who were willing to go.

The Eagle-Tribune newspaper in North Andover reports at least one home has been destroyed and several others have caught fire amid a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

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