Nearly 18,000 customers were without power on Thursday evening because of the emergency switch-offs, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
- 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".
With a backpack filled with personal items he had hastily grabbed, he said he'd head to his mother's home a few towns over for the night. It appeared to take the firefighters a significant amount of time to get water flowing into the home.
"We are sorry", he said.
Eversource did not return messages seeking comment.
Shortly after the explosions began around 5 p.m., Massachusetts State Police issued this bulletin: "Residents in the affected towns who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so".
Fire and smoke billowing out of a home in Boston, in the USA state of MA.
Columbia Gas President Steve Bryant said in a separate news conference that he understands why the governor took control of the restoration effort away from his company, but he said his employees have been working hard.
Some 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odour had been reported, Massachusetts State Police said.
Lupa is unlikely to return home soon.
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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told WBZ: "What we know is that there are have been multiple explosions, multiple fires that are happening across the city".
Authorities said all of the fires had been extinguished overnight and the situation was stabilizing.
Columbia Gas, a unit of utility NiSource Inc, is investigating, NISource spokesperson Ken Stammen said on Thursday.
The Columbia Gas company announced earlier on Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. Shares of NiSource plunged as much as 11 percent to $25.03 at 10:22 a.m.in NY, the biggest intraday drop since November 2008. "We are focused on providing as much support as possible to our customers, residents and communities", the company said in the statement.
Fire and utility crews were still going door-to-door on Friday to conduct safety checks and shut off gas meters, officials said, after firefighters raced for hours from one blaze to another and utility crews rushed to shut off gas and electricity on Thursday.
Lawrence General Hospital said it was treating 10 victims, including at least one in critical condition.
Columbia Gas said in its statement: "What happened in the Merrimack Valley [Thursday] was a tragic incident. And God forbid you go to sleep and not wake up tomorrow".
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators. "Once that's complete, we will work with federal government and others to investigate how this occurred and hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions".
Later, FOX station Boston 25 reported that more than 20 people had been injured. Both led to fiery explosions and cost more than $1 million apiece in damage.
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