Firemen scrambled to put out at least 60 to a 100 fires burning across Massachusetts cities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover after a series of gas explosions occurred Thursday evening.
Thousands were told to evacuate buildings in the three cities — which are located about an hour outside central Boston — as homes and even a church exploded into flames.
Many people poured into the streets, fearing their homes were filled with gas. Residents were warned to not use their phones or even shut their doors too hard as authorities feared it could trigger more explosions.
“You can’t even see the sky,” Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon revealed, according to the Associated Press.
As of now, Solomon, who is currently in Lawrence, says there are about 20 to 25 homes on fire. At this time, it is unclear as to what triggered the explosions.
Lawrence General Hospital confirms six people, including one firefighter, are being treated at the hospital. Two of those people are in critical condition.
“We continue to prepare for multiple casualties. The hospital is fully operational with additional doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff in all areas,” the hospital tweeted.
In video obtained by WCVB, numerous houses and apartment buildings can be seen in flames.
“Residents in the affected towns of Lawrence/North Andover/Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so. Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time,” the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement.
Residents’ whose homes are serviced by Columbia Gas have also been asked to turn off the gas in their homes and not operate their cell phones.
Columbia Gas has also shut down their services.
In a different statement released by the Andover Police, officials have “responded and put out 35 total fires in Andover.”
“At peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time. ALL FIRES HAVE BEEN EXTINGUISHED, however, fire crews remain in Andover throughout the evening.”
Andover Police also said, “at least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians.”
One of the victims, 18-year-old Leonel Rondon died at Mass General Hospital around 8:30 p.m., according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office, Mass Live reported.
The current state of North Andover is not clear at this time.
Governor Charlie Baker also addressed the emergency.
“Governor Baker is actively monitoring the situations in the Merrimack Valley and is communicating with first responders and public safety officials. The administration urges residents to heed instructions from local officials for important public safety announcements, including evacuations and suspending gas usage.”