Officials in Massachusetts say there are up to 70 fires burning in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover after problems with the natural gas system.
Multiple people have been hurt, including one firefighter in Andover. Town officials said two civilians in Andover were also injured.
In Lawrence, at least four people were said to be undergoing treatment at Lawrence General Hospital, according to WHDH. A woman trapped in her house during the explosion suffered leg injuries, and a man in a car nearby was seriously injured by a falling chimney.
According to The Eagle Tribune, officials have alerted Holy Family Hospital in Methuen to expect multiple admissions.
The Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet on Thursday that residents in the affected areas who have gas service from Columbia Gas ‘should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not done so’.
They updated the tweet to say that Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is asking all residents of South Lawrence to evacuate their homes.
‘This is addition to evacuation of all Columbia Gas customers in Lawrence/Andover/North Andover,’ state police said. ‘Utility cos shutting off several thousand meters.’
If residents who don’t have service from Columbia smell gas in their home they areurged to leave.
‘Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time,’ police said.
In a follow-up, the state police said that the power company would be shutting off power to all of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover ‘to assist in the gas situation’.
Rivera said residents in South Lawrence looking for information on the gas and fire incidents should call 211.
Lt. Edward Guy, spokesman for the Andover Police Department, said: ‘There are multiple basement fires in Andover. It’s some kind of gas issue. We urge residents if they are smelling gas to get out of the house and contact 911. We will get units out there.’