Saturday, 17 November, 2018

70 fires and explosions erupt in MA

Teenager killed as 'gas explosions' set homes ablaze Nearly 40 fires and explosions erupt in Massachusetts
Faye Gross | 15 September, 2018, 01:46

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators.

Johnny Tran, who lives near the house where a teenager was killed by the blasts in Lawrence, was at home when the explosions occurred.

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

What do we know about the victims?

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Leonel Rondon, 18, was inside his auto when a chimney from a house explosion fell on his vehicle, the Essex County District Attorney's office said. It was unclear how numerous fires and explosions were in homes or other locations.

Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters "it looked like Armageddon, it really did".

In more densely populated Lawrence, the process of inspecting and clearing buildings is more complicated and being done in concert with electrical utilities, Mayor Dan Rivera said.

At least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians.

People cover their faces to protect themselves from heavy smoke.

Some residents were evacuated from their homes to senior centers and middle schools as officials investigated the situation, police said.

Its parent company said Columbia Gas crews were performing safety checks, but did not explain what went wrong.

Emergency response workers from surrounding communities worked through the night to help extinguish fires and care for the injured.

Gov. Charlie Baker says 10 other people were injured Thursday in a series of fires and explosions that authorities blame on over-pressurized natural gas lines. In a release dated Thursday the company had said it would "be upgrading natural gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state".

It is not clear whether maintenance work was happening at the time of the blasts.

Hurricane Florence swamps Carolinas, threatening record rainfall, punishing winds
Five deaths in North Carolina have been linked to Hurricane Florence Friday, including a mother and baby who died in Wilmington . Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.


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.

Before gas explosions in MA sent its shares reeling on Friday, utility NiSource Inc (NI.N) was considered a secure play and its top investor was loading up on shares as part of a push into what it called "the safest, most defensive sector in the S&P 500".

Officials had cut power in the area and the streets were pitch black, save for emergency vehicle lights.

Massachusetts State Police say troopers have been dispatched to the three towns to secure scenes and help traffic that has snarled roads as panicked residents attempt to flee their suburbs amid the afternoon peak hour. He said residents detecting unusual odors should leave their homes. "It's total destruction. I'd be completely devastated".

Police drove up and down streets with bull horns telling residents to vacate their homes immediately.

Neighborhoods were evacuated in northern Massachusetts Thursday following a series of explosions and fires apparently caused by a faulty gas line.

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

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

Merrimack College, which is located in North Andover, advised that "in an over abundance of caution", students and faculty needed to evacuate all buildings on campus, but later said all buildings were "safe for re-entry". A hospital spokesperson told CNN one person is in critical condition, and another patient is listed as serious. Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said that there were so many fires at a particular time that you could not even see the sky.

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

Police confirmed fires were raging in three communities north of Boston due to suspected gas explosions in the area. Lawrence, the largest of them, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000. Not all gas had been shut off by Thursday evening and some of the lines were overpressurized, officials said.

In addition, close to 50 field personnel who work in gas operations for New York's Consolidated Edison Inc. and Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. were on their way Friday to assist with turning off the gas meters, a step necessary before gas could be restored to pipelines serving the affected neighborhoods. Consolidated Edison later agreed to pay US$153 million to settle charges after the state's Public Service Commission found Con Ed violated state safety regulations.

No additional gas-related emergencies had been reported on Friday.

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