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Fires, explosions erupt in multiple USA towns near Boston

Fires, explosions erupt in multiple USA towns near Boston

One house in Lawrence exploded, sending the chimney flying.

Crews scrambled to fight blazes at 39 properties and turned off gas and electricity lines to prevent further damage, with Massachusetts State Police urging all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas to leave. Gas remained shut off on Friday (Saturday NZT) in most of the area, and the streets were eerily deserted.

State Police estimated up to 38 homes were destroyed by the explosions and fires.

Authorities said Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his vehicle. He was rushed to a Boston hospital and pronounced dead Thursday evening.

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

Volunteers help to unload a truck of donations outside the Parthum School in Lawrence Friday.

Officials said dozens of fires and explosions were reported after an apparent gas line problem.

"It was very scary", Williams said, with smoke visible on the skyline.

Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, one of the affected towns, said of the company, "It just seemed like there's no one in charge, like they're in the weeds, and they've never seen this before".

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People cover their faces to protect themselves from heavy smoke.

The officials said that they are investigating and ease out the pressure on the gas pipes.

Teams of firefighters, police, and gas company workers were out in force overnight, shutting off gas to the 8,000 impacted homes.

Fire crews from around MA and Southern New Hampshire worked together Thursday to extinguish the dozens of fires that broke out throughout the afternoon and evening.

Columbia Gas, a unit of the utility giant NiSource Inc, announced earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions occurred.

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. A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately return calls.

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.

Gas explosions have claimed lives and destroyed property around the U.S. in recent years.

The streets were darkened after nightfall as power was cut off to the area as a precaution.

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He said that a number of North Andover streets had been "cleared to return", but advised residents not to switch on their gas supplies.

Nam said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house, but the basement was on fire. "It's total destruction. I'd be completely devastated".

"The follow-through just wasn't there", Baker said. Power was being shut off to the entire communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out. Minutes later, Mr Nam said he heard a loud boom from his neighbour's house and the ground shook.

One person is reportedly in a critical condition, and two of the victims are believed to be firefighters.

Aerial footage of the area showed some homes that appeared to be torn apart by blasts. Solomon told reporters there were so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

The former head of that agency, Brigham McCown, called the series of gas explosions "unprecedented, at least in recent memory".

Local media say the first of a series of explosions was triggered by an overpressurised gas line.

- In 2014, a gas explosion in New York City's East Harlem neighbourhood killed eight people and injured about 50.

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