Multiple fire trucks from surrounding communities arrive Thursday, September 13, 2018, in Lawrence, Mass., responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston.
The Essex District Attorney says 18-year-old Leonel Rondon was inside a vehicle in the driveway of the home when a chimney fell on it. Rondon was pronounced dead at Mass General Hospital.
State police said in a tweet, "numerous evacuations of neighborhoods where there are gas odors are underway".
Flanked by community leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Gov. Charlie Baker vowed, "we'll work with the federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties responsible for their actions". At least 18 fires were burning at the same time.
It was not immediately clear whether those injured were different from the four victims with fire-related injuries taken to Lawrence General Hospital.
At least one person has died and 12 people have been injured in the explosions.
Reached by phone, some local officials described scenes of panic as residents rushed to evacuate, many wondering if their homes would be next to erupt in flames.
Officials were shutting down power in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover because of the emergency, state police said on Thursday evening. Off-ramps into the towns have been closed while on-ramps remain open to allow residents to get out of the affected areas. State police received between 60 and 100 reports of fires and gas explosions in the Merrimack region.
A statement released Friday morning by the Columbia natural gas company, which serves the neighborhoods involved, said an "extensive restoration effort" will be required before the neighborhoods can return to normal.
Columbia Gas, a unit of utility NiSource Inc, is investigating, NISource spokesman Ken Stammen said on Thursday.
State Police say they have confirmed fires at 39 locations but warn the number will grow. No other information on a timeline or work required was immediately available from the company. "What we need folks to do is that if it's happening in your home, you have a amusing smell, just evacuate, come out to the street", he said.
Andover officials said they extinguished all 35 fires in their town after authorities struck a 10-alarm response, its maximum traditional fire response. Some 50 fire departments responded to the emergency, said John McArdle, fire chief of Plaistow, New Hampshire, which sent a tower ladder and engine crew to the scene.
"Right now, we're just trying to keep people safe". Anyone in those towns who has gas service from Columbia Gas should leave their homes until further notice.
Fire investigators suspected "over-pressurization of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of MA led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said at a news conference.