Emergency services in Massachusetts are responding to a series of gas explosions in the Lawrence area, affecting at least 39 buildings and possibly more, local officials say. There are reports of injuries.
The incident began at about 5 p.m. ET on Thursday when dozens of buildings in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were hit by explosions. They were likely caused by over-pressured gas valves.
At least 39 buildings are involved, according to Massachusetts State Police, which added that the “number will grow.” Footage from the area showed that some of the buildings had collapsed.
Multiple people have been taken to hospital, but the number was not immediately known.
Emergency services were overwhelmed by the explosions, which have been upgraded to a 9-alarm fire. Footage shown on local TV showed that some buildings were burning without any firefighters at the scene.
“We are deploying all fire, police and EMS personnel to the scenes,” Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivers said. “Columbia Gas is also deploying all personnel to the scene to get to the bottom of it.”
Massachusetts State Police said residents in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately. “Gas lines are currently being de-pressurized by the company. It will take some time,” police said.
Law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are also investigating.
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