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1 dead, 12 injured after 70 fires, gas explosions reported in US; three towns evacuated

Mass evacuations from US towns north of Boston were underway after dozens of fires and suspected gas explosions erupted, leaving at least six injuries. Police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and smell of gas in the three towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2018 10:16 IST
fire,gas explosion,evacuation
A building burns after explosions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States in this September 13, 2018 photo from social media by Boston Sparks. Boston Sparks/Social Media/via Reuters.(REUTERS)

At least one person died and 12 were injured after dozens of fires and suspected gas explosions erupted leading to mass evacuations from US towns north of Boston, police said.

Massachusetts State Police said they had responded to 70 reports of fires, explosions and the smell of gas in a widespread zone encompassing the east coast towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

“Gas lines are currently being depressurised,” police said on Twitter, adding that “it will take some time.”

“Numerous evacuations of neighbourhoods where there are gas odours are underway,” police said. “Far too early to speculate on cause. Joint investigation will be conducted when situation is stabilised.”

Authorities were to cut power to thousands of metres, police said, and residents in all three towns with utilities service from Columbia Gas had been asked to evacuate immediately. In a release dated Thursday the company had said it would “be upgrading natural gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state.”

The mayor of Lawrence additionally requested that all those living in the southern zone of his town leave their homes ahead of the planned power shutdown. Lawrence General Hospital was treating six patients injured in the gas explosions, and two of them were in critical condition.

“We continue to prepare for multiple casualties,” the hospital said.

Red Cross centers were open to shelter evacuees while Lawrence public schools were to shutter Friday.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement he was “actively monitoring the situation,” urging “residents to heed instructions from local officials.”

First Published: Sep 14, 2018 06:49 IST