Boston gas blasts like 'Armageddon'

by Abel Hampton September 15, 2018, 1:48
Boston gas blasts like 'Armageddon'

A hospital in Lawrence says it's treating six people injured in fires and explosions.

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.

Fire investigators suspect "over-pressurization of a gas main" led to the series of blasts and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said at a news conference.

The blasts appear to be pipeline explosions, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday in a briefing.

He said: "This is still very much an active scene". "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".

Fire crews then spent hours going from property to property tackling blazes, as gas technicians rushed to shut off gas supplies and assist in safety checks.

Residents in the area who have service from Columbia Gas "should evacuate their homes immediately", state police said.

Officials in Andover and North Andover say they have sufficient resources to continue to operate shelters, but contact the Red Cross at 774-204-5071 about the best ways to help.

Officials had cut power in the area and the streets were pitch black, except for the lights coming from emergency vehicles. "It's total destruction. I'd be completely devastated".

Columbia had announced earlier on Thursday (Friday NZT) that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods 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 return calls.

The AP additionally noted that State Police officers are now trying to secure areas where "multiple suspected gas explosions" took place.

The town of 35,000 residents is about 26 miles north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

In North Andover, town selectman Phil Decologero said his entire neighbourhood had gathered in the street, afraid to enter their homes. "Joint investigation will be conducted when situation is stabilized".

He warned anyone with concerns to leave their houses and head to North Andover High School, which is being set up as a gathering point. At one, the upper portion of a brick chimney crushed an SUV parked in the driveway.

A series of gas explosions has ignited fires in dozens of homes in MA - killing one person and injuring at least 12 others. Lawrence City Councilor Marc Laplante said entire neighborhoods were being evacuated in the Colonial Heights area, which he represents. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera had asked impacted residents to evacuate. "What we need folks to do is that if it's happening in your home, you have a amusing smell, just evacuate, come out to the street".

Before gas explosions in MA sent its shares reeling on Friday, utility NiSource Inc (NI.N) was considered a secure play and its top investor was loading up on shares as part of a push into what it called "the safest, most defensive sector in the S&P 500".

The November 2012 explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts, was caused when a Columbia employee accidentally punctured a gas line while probing for a leak.

Ten people were confirmed injured. Consolidated Edison later agreed to pay US$153 million to settle charges after the state's Public Service Commission found Con Ed violated state safety regulations. "This is the sort of thing a gas distribution company hopes to never have".

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