70+ Home Explosions, Fires Reported Across 2 Massachusetts Towns
Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET
Massachusetts State Police have confirmed officials are responding to 70 house fires, explosions or reports of gas odors — possibly caused by gas leaks — around the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, on Thursday evening, warning that the "number will grow."
Officials urged all residents in the area who are Columbia Gas customers to evacuate, "as should anyone else who smells gas."
At least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians, town officials said in a statement.
Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick E. Keefe, and Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said Andover fire responders had put out a 35 total fires. "At peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time," they said, adding that all fires have been extinguished and fire crews will remain in the town throughout the evening.
Columbia Gas has been shutting off all power to residents in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, MPS officials said in a tweet.
MSP said it was too early to know the cause of the explosions and fires.
The Associated Press reported:
"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. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment."