Massachusetts Residents Told to Stay Away coming from Homes After Gas Explosions in addition to Fires

LAWRENCE, Mass. — As state in addition to federal investigators began sifting through damage across three Massachusetts towns, thousands of residents were told not to return to their homes on Friday morning after a sudden series of gas explosions in addition to fires of which ripped through the region the night before.

The numbers were overwhelming: 8,500 homes or businesses had been affected by an overpressurized gas line in addition to many of them needed to remain empty for at of which point, the authorities said. As many as 80 buildings had been burned. Some 150 emergency calls had come in coming from stunned residents reporting the smell of gas, a blaze or a blast of some sort, in addition to 400 people had wound up sleeping in a few shelters of which were hastily opened overnight.

The chain of incidents in Lawrence, Andover in addition to North Andover, north of Boston, left one person dead in addition to more than 20 injured.

Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management, said the exact cause of the disaster can be still unknown, nevertheless officials were focused on the possibility of which natural gas had become overpressurized along thousands of lines to homes in addition to businesses.

“All we can say at of which point can be of which the investigation can be in its very preliminary stages,” he said.

Residents were increasingly frustrated as they sought answers coming from a local gas company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, nevertheless the company was saying little. On Thursday night, the company had issued a short statement: “Columbia Gas crews are currently responding to reports of multiple fires in Lawrence. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s incident.”

Katharine Seelye reported coming from Lawrence, Mass., in addition to Farah Stockman coming from Cambridge, Mass.