1 killed after gas explosions spark nearly 40 structure fires in towns north of Boston

1 killed after gas explosions spark nearly 40 structure fires in towns north of Boston
One person was killed and at least 10 people have been injured in the fires that broke out in a string of towns north of Boston. (Source: WHDH/CNN)

(RNN) – A man was killed and at least 10 people were injured after dozens of house fires broke out in a string of communities north of Boston Thursday evening due to an unspecified issue with gas lines.

The fires primarily hit Columbia Gas customers in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

The Associated Press reported that Leonel Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died after the chimney of an exploding house crashed onto his car. He was pronounced dead at a Boston hospital Thursday evening.

The AP also reported that fires were ignited in at least 39 homes.

Massachusetts State Police had earlier tweeted that there were 70 “responses to fires/explosions/investigations of gas odor.” They were evacuating multiple neighborhoods and restricting access to the area.

Gas explosions, fires burn dozens of homes in Mass.

The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune newspaper reported the 10 injuries and the one death, citing authorities.

The town of Andover said at least three people were injured there, including a firefighter.

“Residents in the affected towns of Lawrence/North Andover/Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so,” state police tweeted.

“Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company; it will take some time.”

A spokesman for the Andover Police Department told the Eagle-Tribune it was “some kind of gas issue” causing the fires.

The town of Andover said that there were 35 total fires there during the outbreak, with a peak of 18 burning at the same time. The city’s web post said they had all been extinguished.

All residents were evacuating the south part of Lawrence, a city of about 80,000. North Andover was advising all residents with gas in their residence to evacuate.

Dramatic videos showed multiple structures engulfed in flames in the area.

“We had companies out there that were responding to a building fire. They would extinguish the building fire. They would come outside and they’d find that the next building next door on fire as well,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said in an evening press conference.

Schools have been closed for Friday.

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