Teen killed by falling chimney during MA gas explosions

Teen killed by falling chimney during MA gas explosions

Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon died when his auto was crushed by a falling chimney, a spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney's office said.

The blasts left scores of homes and other buildings demolished or engulfed in flames as firefighters from some 50 departments scurried for hours from one blaze to another and utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity in the area to prevent further ignitions.

Massachusetts State Police say gas lines are now being depressurized by the company.

Flanked by community leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Gov. Charlie Baker vowed, "we'll work with the federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties responsible for their actions".

Authorities in MA say a natural gas issue is to blame for at least 39 fires that erupted in homes across communities in Boston.

The injured are being treated at Lawrence General Hospital and two people are said to be in a critical condition.

Officials have yet to identify what caused the explosions but said that pressure on natural gas lines...

As many families seek refuge in temporary shelters, officials are warning that it could be at least another day until they're allowed to return home.

Police told CNN earlier that the gas explosions set fire to dozens of blocks and forced evacuations for residents living in the three towns.

"The issue is there could still be a gas leak in your home, and the danger is that it's an invisible thing", Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said. City Councillor Marc Laplante said authorities were shutting off electric power and urging residents in the Colonial Heights neighbourhood to head to Parthum elementary and middle schools.

"My first thought was this is a gas explosion".

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"Columbia Gas is investigating what happened on its system today", NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said. A company spokeswoman did not immediately provide comment.

Gas explosions have claimed lives and destroyed property around the USA in recent years.

Police said they were dealing with explosions or fires in 39 locations. "What we need folks to do is that if it's happening in your home, you have a amusing smell, just evacuate, come out to the street".

"It's really scary", she said.

"Right now, we're just trying to keep people safe".

Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan, Police Chief Patrick E. Keefe and Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said Andover fire responders had put out a total of 35 fires.

"I have been in the fire service for nearly 39 years and I have never seen anything like this in my entire career", Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mansfield said.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles north of Boston.

Preliminary numbers estimate that between 60 and 100 homes in the Merrimack Valley caught fire in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Methuen Police Chief Joseph Soloman said.

- A 2011 natural gas explosion killed five people in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and that state's largest gas utility was fined by regulators who called the company's safety record "downright alarming".

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