'It looked like Armageddon.' Homes burn in MA

Nearly 40 fires and explosions erupt in Massachusetts

Nearly 40 fires and explosions erupt in Massachusetts

At 7:25 p.m., state police had tallied 70 responses to fires, explosions or investigations of gas odor in the three communities. The utility said its thoughts are "with everyone affected by today's incident".

The state police described the incidents as gas explosions and structure fires and said they were also reported in the town of Andover.

Liberty Utilities spokesperson John Shore said the company has on-call technicians standing ready to help Columbia Gas.

At least 10 other people were injured, one critically.

Investigators worked Friday to pinpoint the cause of a series of dramatic natural gas explosions that killed a teenager who had just gotten his driver's license and was sitting in his vehicle, injured at least 25 others and left dozens of homes in smouldering ruins.

The blasts on Thursday destroyed scores of homes and other buildings in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence, left more than 18,000 homes and businesses without power and forced thousands of people from their homes.

The cause of the explosions wasn't immediately clear.

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

Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence were rocked by gas explosions and several fires around 5 p.m., drawing emergency responders from across the region to battle the between 60 and 80 fires that broke out nearly simultaneously due to a situation involving the communities' gas lines.

By 7:00pm local time, officials in Andover said all fires in the town had been extinguished. "At peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time", city police said.

"There are multiple basement fires in Andover". Lawrence General Hospital said it had treated 13 people for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma.

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

Crews work to knock down a fire.

Lawrence city councilor Marc Leplante told the Guardian: "It's just wall to wall fire trucks from all over, and rows of ambulances and command trucks".

Residents who were evacuated "should expect that the restoration process will take several days or longer", Andrew Maylor, the town manager of North Andover, said on Twitter.

At least 10 people, including a firefighter, were injured by the fires, according to the Associated Press. "We urge residents if they are smelling gas to get out of the house and contact 911".

There are no indications of foul play and local media reports suggest a possible rupture of a gas line is to blame with WBZ News reporting the first explosion was triggered by an overpressurised gas line. A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately return calls. The town of 35,000 residents is about 40 kilometres north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

On its website, Columbia Gas had posted a note to MA customers that it was upgrading natural gas lines "in neighborhoods across the state" to enhance safety and reliability.

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

Firefighters raced for hours from one blaze to another and utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity to prevent further explosions.

Investigators suspected that over-pressurisation of a gas main belonging to Columbia Gas of MA led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said on Thursday.

Solomon, who responded to Lawrence to help, said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

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