US towns evac­u­ate over gas ex­plo­sions

TEENAGER DIES AS FIRES START

The Chronicle - - World -

IN­VES­TI­GA­TORS are try­ing to pin­point the cause of a se­ries of nat­u­ral gas ex­plo­sions that killed a US teenager and in­jured at least 10 oth­ers.

Author­i­ties said an es­ti­mated 8,000 peo­ple had to leave their homes at the height of Thurs­day’s chaos in three towns north of Boston.

The Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board was send­ing a team to in­ves­ti­gate, say­ing pipe­lines are within its ju­ris­dic­tion.

The rapid-fire se­ries of gas ex­plo­sions that one of­fi­cial de­scribed as “Ar­maged­don” ig­nited fires in at least 39 homes in Lawrence, An­dover and North An­dover, forc­ing en­tire neigh­bour­hoods to evac­u­ate as fire crews scram­bled to fight the flames and shut off gas and elec­tric­ity.

Gas re­mained shut off yes­ter­day in most of the area, and the streets were eerily de­serted.

Author­i­ties said Leonel Ron­don, 18, of Lawrence, died af­ter a chim­ney smashed into his car.

Mas­sachusetts State Po­lice urged all res­i­dents with homes ser­viced by Columbia Gas in the three com­mu­ni­ties to evac­u­ate, snarling traf­fic and caus­ing wide­spread con­fu­sion as res­i­dents and local of­fi­cials strug­gled to un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing.

Hun­dreds spent the night in shel­ters, and school was can­celled as fam­i­lies waited to re­turn to their homes.

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