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Six injured, over 100 evacuated as 'Armaggeddon'-like gas explosions erupt in Boston

Massachusetts State Police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and the smell of gas in a widespread zone encompassing the east coast towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Edited by: India TV News Desk Boston Updated on: September 14, 2018 7:49 IST

"Gas lines are currently being depressurised," police tweeted, adding that "it will take some time."

 

At least six people were injured and over 100 were evacuated as a series of gas explosions dubbed as 'Armaggedon' ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday. Massachusetts State Police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and the smell of gas in a widespread zone encompassing the east coast towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

"Gas lines are currently being depressurised," police tweeted, adding that "it will take some time."

"Numerous evacuations of neighborhoods where there are gas odors are underway," police said. "Far too early to speculate on cause. Joint investigation will be conducted when situation is stabilised."

Authorities were to cut power to thousands of meters, police said, and residents in all three towns with utilities service from Columbia Gas had been asked to evacuate immediately.

“It looked like Armageddon, it really did,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters. “There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said state and local authorities are investigating but that it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers.

“This is still very much an active scene,” he said. “There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why.”

Hours after the explosions, the utility’s parent company issued a brief statement saying its crews were still performing safety checks in the area.

“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s incident,” Indiana-based NiSource said in a statement. “The first priority for our crews at the scene is to ensure the safety of our customers and the community.”

Baker previously said authorities hadn’t heard directly from Columbia Gas, but later called the company’s response “adequate.”

By late Thursday, all of the fires had been doused but many areas remained silent and dark after residents fled and after power companies cut electricity to prevent further fires. Schools in all three communities were canceled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was to head to the scene Friday morning, the federal agency tweeted.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement he was "actively monitoring the situation," urging residents to heed instructions from local officials.

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