Fiery Explosions Erupt at Dozens of Homes in Massachusetts

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Essex County, Massachusetts — First responders were overwhelmed as apparent gas explosions were ripping through homes in three Massachusetts towns Thursday. Crews were battling blazes into the night.

There has been at least one fatality, Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque said. The man, 18, was killed when a blast sent a chimney crashing into his car, the AP reported.

A hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts says it is treating 13 people, two are critical. An exact number of injured was not immediately known.

Massive home explosions and fires were reported in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover in the late afternoon–between 60 and 100 structures were burning by sundown. Police were also receiving dozens of calls reporting the odor of gas.

“I’ve been in the fire service for almost 39 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire career,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said. “It looked like Armageddon, it really did. Billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me, I could see plumes of smoke in front of me from Andover. It just looked like an absolute war zone. It’s something I’ve never experienced in my fire service career and I hope I never experience it again.”

 

Fox 25 Boston

Officials in North Andover have officially ordered an evacuation for the entire town.

Merrimack College ordered students, faculty and staff to evacuate buildings on campus “immediately” out of an abundance of caution.

Officials believe the cause could be an over pressurization of a gas line which caused ruptures in multiple homes leading to leaks, explosions, and fires.

“Residents in the affected towns of Lawrence/North Andover/Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately,” police said. “Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time.” Adding, it’s “far too early to speculate on cause.”

The FBI in Boston said they will investigate out of an abundance of caution but said “there are no indications this incident is related to terrorism.”

Lawrence police Chief Roy Vasque said, “It’s bad. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Map Shows Confirmed Explosions, Fires In Lawrence and North Andover / MSP

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told a local news station there are so many fires “you can’t even see the sky.”

The government there has activated the Emergency Operations Center in response. Off-duty firefighters were responding in their personal vehicles to help in the rescue efforts.

Firefighters from as far as New Hampshire were called in to assist.

Images from local media helicopters showed multiple homes completely leveled or knocked off the foundation—many more were on fire.

Officials held a news conference Thursday evening, saying those responsible ‘will be held accountable for their actions.’

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