Deadly gas explosions set dozens of homes on fire in Boston, one reported dead

A series of gas explosions, described by one official as Armageddon,' have rocked three communities

At least one person has died, 12 are injured and 39 homes caught on fire just north of Boston, U S A

The disaster is believed to have been triggered by the over-pressurization' of a gas main

Authorities said Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his car

He was rushed to a Boston hospital but pronounced dead there in the evening

Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to evacuate

It looked like Armageddon, it really did,' Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said

Image result for boston gas explosion

There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover '

There was widespread confusion in the area with people desperately trying to flee the scenes

Many headed to schools to seek shelter worried that their homes would be the next to catch alight

Meanwhile traffic backed-up by people desperate to flee

Firefighters from 50 different teams raced for hours from one blaze to the next while utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity supplies to prevent further ignitions

Massachusetts State Police said a total of 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odour had been reported

Officials are still at the scenes and while all the fires have been doused, many areas remain eerily dark and silent

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border They are all served by the same gas line

Joseph Solomon, the police chief in nearby Methuen, said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence when he responded to help He said there are so many fires you can't even see the sky'

Lawrence General Hospital said it had treated 13 people for injuries, ranging from smoke inhalation to blast trauma One of those people, Mr Rondon, died in hospital

This has been an overwhelming event,' Mr Mansfield told reporters, saying that fire companies responding to blazes were putting one house fire out only to discover another house on fire as they finished their work

This event is not over tonight This event will probably go on '

Governor Charlie Baker said state and local authorities are investigating but that it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers

This is still very much an active scene,' he said

There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why '

Hours after the explosions, the utility's parent company issued a brief statement saying its crews were still performing safety checks in the area

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident,' Indiana-based NiSource said in a statement

The first priority for our crews at the scene is to ensure the safety of our customers and the community '

Schools in all three communities were cancelled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents

Lawrence resident Bruce Razin said he arrived just as residents were being evacuated, and immediately saw the house two doors down was levelled from an explosion

I couldn't imagine if that was my house

It's total destruction I'd be completely devastated '

Resident Ra Nam said he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4 30pm local time on Thursday

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

Minutes later, Mr Nam said he heard a loud boom from his neighbour's house and the ground shook

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized but said investigators were still examining what happened

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

It's definitely a scary situation at the moment,' he said It's pretty severe '

Aerial footage of the area showed some homes that appeared to be torn apart by blasts At one, the upper portion of a brick chimney crushed a vehicle parked in the driveway


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