At least one person has been killed and others injured after a series of suspected gas explosions rocked towns north of Boston in MA on Thursday evening. "This is the sort of thing a gas distribution company hopes to never have".
Fire and smoke billowing out of a home in Boston, in the U.S. state of MA.
Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon died when his auto was crushed by a falling chimney, a spokesperson for the Essex County District Attorney's office said. He was rushed to a Boston hospital but pronounced dead there in the evening.
The rapid-fire series of gas explosions that one official described as "Armageddon" ignited fires in 60 to 80 homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, forcing entire neighbourhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas and electricity.
More than 8,000 homes were impacted, all of which will need to be inspected before residents can return.
"This has been an overwhelming event", 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.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators.
People cover their faces to protect themselves from heavy smoke. It said it was conducting safety checks and supporting first responders.
He said the fires were gas-related and have all been extinguished.
"We expect this will be an extended restoration effort, and we will work tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers", the statement said. Hours before the explosions, the company had unveiled plans to upgrade gas lines across MA, including in the areas where the blasts happened.
Public schools in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover will be closed on Friday because of the fires.
Officials had cut power in the area and the streets were pitch black, save for emergency vehicle lights.More news: Hurricane Florence Charleston: Latest Forecast & Track
Officials urged all residents in the area who are Columbia Gas customers to evacuate, "as should anyone else who smells gas".
"There could still be a gas leak in your home", he said. "It's total destruction. I'd be completely devastated".
Andover, North Andover and Lawrence projects were included.
"There are multiple basement fires in Andover". Resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4.30pm.
When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.
In North Andover, town selectman Phil Decologero said his entire neighbourhood had gathered in the street, afraid to enter their homes.
At the height of the disaster, Michael Rivera, who narrowly escaped a house fire, said his city "looked like a war zone".
A hospital in Lawrence says it's treating six people injured in fires and explosions.
Firefighters battle a fire in a house in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA, 13 September 2018. About 50 fire departments responded to the emergency, said John McArdle, fire chief of Plaistow, New Hampshire, which sent a tower ladder and engine crew to the scene.
"You can't even see the sky", Solomon said.
The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 42 kilometres north of Boston.
Warren and Seaman said the last time they responded to MA for a major blaze was the Malden Mills factory fire in Lawrence in 1995.