North America

Teenager dead as gas line explosions spark dozens of fires in Boston


One man has died and 12 others were injured after a series of gas explosions sparked dozens of house fires in Boston.

An 18-year-old man has died and at least 12 others were injured after dozens of gas explosions apparently triggered by over-pressurised gas line ignited 70 house fires. 

The victim, Leonel Robson of Lawrence, died after being rushed to hospital in Boston when a chimney from an exploding house crashed onto his car on Thursday.

Another six people are being treated in hospital. 

Massachusetts police say the explosions in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover rocked numerous neighbourhoods on Thursday afternoon and evacuations are underway where gas odours were present.

Columbia Gas, which has 313,000 customers across the state, says an investigation is underway as the utility works to cut gas supply.

Authorities are scrambling to shut down gas supply to stop further explosions. 

Massachusetts State Police are urging anyone whose homes are serviced by Columbia Gas in the area to evacuate, snarling traffic and causing widespread confusion as residents and local officials struggle to understand what was happening. 

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did," Andover fire chief Michael Mansfield told reporters.

State police now puts the tally of fires and explosions at 70, up from the 39 initially reported, with the number expected to grow.

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.

Live television images show firefighters on high ladders, battling flames engulfing low-slung houses in Lawrence and North Andover, former mill towns about 40km north of Boston.

The adjacent town of Andover was also involved.

Firefighters battle a fire in a house in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA, 13 September 2018.
Firefighters battle a fire in a house in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA, 13 September 2018.

Images posted by local media outlets on Twitter showed numerous homes in flames or collapsed.

"We are asking everybody with gas in their homes to leave their homes until further notice," North Andover town manager Andrew Maylor told one local television station.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told WBZ: "What we know is that there are have been multiple explosions, multiple fires that are happening across the city."

He said residents detecting strange odours should leave their homes.

State police urged residents served by the Columbia Gas company, a unit of NiSource Inc, to evacuate their homes, saying the utility was cutting pressure to its lines and that it would take "some time" to shut off all service.

Multiple fires, explosions rock towns near Boston
Multiple fires, explosions rock towns near Boston

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