Multiple fire trucks from surrounding communities arrive in Lawrence, Mass., responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston, Sept. 13, 2018.
Lawrence General Hospital says it's treating six patients from the gas explosions including two in critical condition.
A day after a series of deadly gas-related fires and explosions tore through MA neighborhoods, the governor declared a state of emergency - just as authorities said they had detected a major gas leak under a street that could have led to a "catastrophic" event.
"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", state police tweeted.
State officials told residents who have gas service from Columbia Gas of MA to evacuate their homes immediately and said gas lines were being depressurized by the company.
Red Cross centers were open to shelter evacuees while Lawrence-area schools were to shutter Friday.
All anyone could point to was a notice posted on the gas company's website Thursday morning which said they were going to be doing some work in the neighborhood.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to MA to investigate a series of gas explosions blamed for one death and dozens of fires.
The company was sued in 2014 after a strip club was destroyed in a natural gas explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts, after a Columbia employee accidentally punctured a gas line while probing for a leak.
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Columbia Gas of MA, a NiSource company, in an update posted to its website at 11:10 a.m. Friday, said, "What happened in the Merrimack Valley.was a tragic incident".
Town officials in Andover are advising all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely. Video showed roofs and walls consumed by flames that billowed thick black smoke.
Gas utilities have come under heightened scrutiny in recent years for an aging network of pipelines that critics say are not being properly inspected and maintained, posing a growing risk to public safety.
It wasn't immediately clear if anyone was injured. "We grieve for the loss. and continue to support first responders".
Gas service was interrupted for 250 customers in Lawrence last month "due to hit line by a third party", according to Columbia Gas.
"It's definitely a scary situation at the moment", he said.
Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant, speaking at a televised news conference on Friday, said, "We advanced this as rapidly as it could possibly be advanced".
"You can't even see the sky", Solomon said.
The explosions - just days after the eight-year anniversary of a deadly blast on a PG&E Corp. gas transmission line in San Bruno, California - may intensify the growing opposition across New England to using gas to heat homes and produce electricity.
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