Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon says there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence from a total of more than 70 in the extended area. Emergency crews responded. Hours after the explosions, the utility’s parent company issued a brief statement saying its crews were still performing safety checks in the area. Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to evacuate.
“There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me, I could see plumes of smoke in front of me within the town of Andover, it just looked like an absolute war zone, Andover Fire Chief Michael B. Mansfield said. “Massachusetts State Police say troopers are responding to the area to help secure areas after “multiple suspected gas explosions.” By late Thursday, all of the fires had been doused. Schools in all three communities were canceled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents. Power companies cut electricity to prevent further fires. Gov. Charlie Baker said state and local authorities are investigating, The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized.