Firefighters battle a house fire in North Andover, Mass., one of a series of fires and explosions on Thursday thought to have been triggered by a gas line that feeds several communities north of Boston.
The North Andover area is covered by Columbia Gas of MA, but its electric provider National Grid said electric crews were responding to assist.
Massachusetts State Police say gas lines are now being depressurized by the company.
The incident, in an area that's home to the famous Phillips Academy Andover whose alumni include George W. Bush and Humphrey Bogart, took place just as Hurricane Florence slammed the coast of the Carolinas farther south on the East Coast, threatening to leave 3 million homes and businesses without power.
Gas supply is being switched off but residents have been urged not to use their gas as a precaution. He mentioned difficulties such as getting into people's homes.
"Our mission is to find out what happened, so that we can learn from it and keep it from happening again", he said. A company spokeswoman did not immediately provide comment. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of MA called for a congressional hearings on the explosions and fires.
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Officers warned Columbia Gas customers in the area to evacuate their homes immediately while the company "despressurises" lines, which it expects will take some time.
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. Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4.30pm on Thursday, local time.
Lupa is unlikely to return home soon.
Crews responded to 150 different emergency calls and 60 to 80 structure fires Thursday during what North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor called a "truly unusual and unprecedented event".
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, he said, serves a residential/commercial (res/com) load "in a fairly small area around Lawrence, MA".
Sumwalt said his agency would look at "the design of the pipeline system, any maintenance or upgrades being done or in process of being done on the pipeline". "It was scary. We didn't know anything".
NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said Columbia Gas was investigating. The Columbia Gas company had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened.
Officials seen at the command center Friday morning included Schwartz, Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Sen. "We will support you and your family", Rivera said at a news conference Friday, speaking in English and Spanish.
More than 70 gas explosions sparked blazes across three communities as crews scrambled to douse the flames and shut off gas and electric lines to prevent further damage.
According to authorities, 18-year-old Leonel Rondon of Lawrence died Thursday after an explosion at one home caused a chimney to fall on a vehicle in which he was sitting.
Lawrence General Hospital was treating six patients injured in the gas explosions, and two of them were in critical condition.
"Our number one priority is to evacuate residents to the northern part of the city", he said in an interview with WHDH TV.
Pipeline work before the explosions creates "a higher potential for a financial impact to the utility", CreditSights Inc. analysts Nick Moglia and Andy DeVries said in a note to clients Friday. "You can't see it and in some cases you won't be able to smell it, and God forbid you go to sleep and don't wake up".
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to MA to investigate. "Once that's complete, we will work with federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions".
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