Gov. Baker: Columbia Gas Response To Explosions ‘Adequate’

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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.

On Thursday, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield described the unfolding scene as "Armageddon".

"I could see smoke, helicopters, fire trucks, police cars, just constant sirens - my city's literally burning to the ground", Almquist told Smith. "I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover", he told reporters.

Pipeline work before the explosions creates "a higher potential for a financial impact to the utility", CreditSights Inc. analysts Nick Moglia and Andy DeVries said in a note to clients Friday.

Several of Billet's family members were evacuated from their homes across South Lawrence as the situation quickly grew dire Thursday.

Some 70 fires, explosions or investigations of gas odour had been reported, Massachusetts State Police said. Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the auto when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH. "I respect the governor's judgment; the governor has the same interest as we do, we want to restore service to these customers".

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.

Some residents who were returning to pick up essentials on Friday morning spoke about the frightening moments of the explosions and the devastation it left behind.

Officials had cut power in the area and the streets were pitch black, save for emergency vehicle lights.

National Grid Plc, which operates the electric utility in the area, was asked to shut power to all of Lawrence and North Andover and pockets of Andover, spokeswoman Christine Milligan said.

"There could still be a gas leak in your home", he said.

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.

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In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume a home.

A man whose neighbourhood was among those affected said he ran into his basement to find the room was glowing. Minutes later, a loud boom came from his neighbor's home.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it appeared the gas lines had become over-pressurised.

Earlier Thursday before the fires broke out, the utility company that services the area announced it would be upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said residents won't be allowed to return home until crews inspect every home and make sure there are no more gas leaks.

Around 400 people made use of five shelters spread throughout the area Thursday night, said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, during a press conference just after 10 a.m. Friday.

Authorities said all of the fires had been extinguished overnight and the situation was stabilizing.

The blasts killed at least one person, injured 12 more and destroyed dozens of homes and other buildings in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence on Thursday. "It's really hard because the traffic right now is horrendous".

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon told the Associated Press there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles (40 kilometers) north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border. Lawrence, the largest of them, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000.

"On a number of very significant issues, we heard one thing, then something else happened. We will get units out there". It's unclear whether that incident was related to Thursday's fire and explosions.

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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