Columbia Gas Expects Extended Restoration Effort

Columbia Gas Expects \Extended Restoration Effort\

1 killed and several injured after suspected gas explosions in Massachusetts

At least one person was killed and more than 20 were injured in Massachusetts Thursday after a series of gas explosions tore through several communities outside Boston, officials said.

Leonel Rondon, 18, was inside his car when a chimney from a house explosion fell on his vehicle, the Essex County District Attorneys office said. Rondon was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Power was shut off in large sections of the three communities as a precaution. Images from WBZ-TV’s Skyeye helicopter Thursday night showed huge areas of darkened neighborhoods, illuminated only by the lights of police cruisers, dispersed to keep the peace and direct traffic. Andover Police say the power will be out until at least 9 a.m. Saturday

At least 13 patients were taken to Lawrence General Hospital as a result of the gas fires. The hospital said one critical patient was taken to a trauma center, while the other injuries ranged from minor smoke inhalation to blast trauma.

All off-ramps on I-495 from Exits 41 through 45 in the area remain closed early Friday morning. On-ramps remained open to allow evacuations. MBTA service in the area was also impacted. The Haverhill Line commuter rail will only run between Reading and North Station on Friday. Buses will run from Haverhill and Bradford to Woburn.

Lawrence MA.Gas explosión, múltiple houses on fine. This one is on Market Street pic.twitter.com/beHML8Sq9j

An issue with a high pressure gas main impacted South Lawrence, North Andover and Andover. Anyone who has gas service from Columbia Gas was told to leave their homes until further notice. Teams consisting of gas technicians, fire and police personnel were going door-to-door to make sure the gas is shut off to about 8,600 meters.

Preliminary numbers estimate that between 60 and 100 homes in the Merrimack Valley caught fire in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Methuen Police Chief Joseph Soloman said.

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) – At least one person has died and 13 others were injured when as many as 70 gas-related explosions and fires rocked multiple homes and buildings in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover Thursday night, prompting officials to order widespread evacuations and establish emergency shelters.

Massachusetts State Police (MSP) confirmed on Twitter that at least 70 locations were affected by fires, explosions and "investigations of gas odor."

The MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen has mobilized an emergency staff and phone number for any animals in affected towns who need shelter as a result of the explosions, fires. Anyone with an animal in need can either show up Thursday night at Nevins Farm at 400 Broadway in Methuen or call 978-687-7453.

Video: MEMA, Lawrence mayor defend Columbia Gas officials missing from news conference

Firefighters battle a house fire in North Andover, Massachusetts, on Thursday as one of multiple emergency crews 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.  (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

At Least 39 Homes Just Exploded or Caught Fire in Massachusetts. The Photos Are Devastating.

Residents in the aforementioned towns that are serviced by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts "should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so," police advised. Gas service was shut down by the company to roughly 8,000 customers.

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. In North Andover, town selectman Phil Decologero said his entire neighborhood had gathered in the street, afraid to enter their homes. Just a few streets down, he said, homes were burning.

"Numerous evacuations of neighborhoods where there are gas odors are underway," MSP tweeted. Columbia Gas was working to depressurize its gas lines, which "will take some time," while National Grid cut electricity to the three towns "to limit spark-started fires."

Solomon — who noted there were no fires in Methuen but the towns first responders aided areas in need — said that in Lawrence alone, there were roughly 20 to 25 homes on fire. He said there were so many fires "you cant even see the sky."

Panic as 60 explosions set dozens of homes on fire near Boston

In the town of Andover, firefighters responded to 38 fires total — all of which have been extinguished. "At peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time," city police said.

Video: Emergency crews respond to reports of multiple explosions and fires in Lawrence, Massachusetts

Local officials said at least one firefighter and two civilians were injured in the "gas-related fires."

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon says there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence. Solomon, whos in Lawrence, says there are so many fires “you cant even see the sky.”

The North Andover Police Department advised residents with gas service in their homes or businesses to "please exit the building until further notice."

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston.

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

Another victim was critically hurt in the fires, which broke out across three suburbs north of Boston. Video showed roofs and walls consumed by flames that billowed thick black smoke. Joseph Solomon, a police chief in the town of Lawrence, said there were so many fires you cant even see the sky.

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."

At least 39 homes were damaged, including one that was razed. Ten people were confirmed injured. The man killed in Lawrence, named as Leonel Robson, died in hospital after a chimney fell on his car, the authorities said.

Gov. Charlie Bakers office said the governor was "actively monitoring the situations in the Merrimack Valley and is communicating with first responders and public safety officials."

The Columbia Gas company announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

Video: Towns evacuated as 70 fires, explosions investigated in Massachusetts

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Video: Towns evacuated as 70 fires, explosions investigated in Massachusetts

Gas explosion evacuees given no clear timeline for returning to homes: officials

(CNN)A man was killed as a series of explosions and fires rocked nearly 40 homes and businesses in three Massachusetts towns on Thursday, according to the Essex County District Attorneys office.

Video: Towns evacuated as 70 fires, explosions investigated in Massachusetts

MSP Fusion Center has current updated tally of responses to fires/explosions/investigations of gas odor at 70. Spread over wide swath of south #Lawrence and northern part of #NorthAndover with several others across Merrimack River in north Lawrence. pic.twitter.com/a7kBYaWFrJ


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