Almost 40 fires and explosions erupt in MA

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A statement from Indiana-based NiSource said its "thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident" and that it appreciates the response from local emergency crews.

"This has been an overwhelming event", Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield told reporters.

Gov. Charlie Baker urged people to not touch their gas gauges and instead let the utility company handle it.

Authorities are scrambling to shut down gas supply to stop further explosions.

A home burned in a series of gas explosions sits next to an unaffected home in Lawrence, Massachusetts, September 14, 2018.

The Boston affiliate of CBS News reported that two of the six patients at Lawrence hospital were in critical condition.

The cause wasn't immediately clear. Schools in all three communities were cancelled for Friday, and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

All that changed in the aftermath of Thursday's gas explosions across three suburbs north of Boston that left at least one person dead, injured at least a dozen more, and drove thousands from their homes.

Several houses have crumbled as result of the explosions that have swept through Lawrence.

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Firefighters put out 35 fires in Andover, town officials said.

In Andover fires burned on High and Elm streets.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 42 kilometres north of Boston.

A man whose neighbourhood was among dozens that erupted in fire says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing.

Minutes later, Nam says he heard a loud boom come from his neighbor's house and the ground shook.

"I think this house is done", she said sadly.

"We are asking everybody with gas in their homes to leave their homes until further notice", North Andover town manager Andrew Maylor told one local television station.

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

The victims were taken to Lawrence General hospital and were treated for fire-related injuries. By later in the evening, gas meters had been shut off by Columbia Gas at about 8,600 meters, and residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately return calls.

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Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence were rocked by gas explosions and several fires around 5 p.m., drawing emergency responders from across the region to battle the between 60 and 80 fires that broke out nearly simultaneously due to a situation involving the communities' gas lines.

Emergency management officials believe over-pressurized gas lines triggered the fires, but investigators have yet to reveal an official cause, CBS News' Kenneth Craig reports.

State police urged residents served by Columbia Gas to evacuate their homes.

Massachusetts State Police say gas lines are now being depressurized by the company.

As pressure mounted Friday for gas company officials to provide answers about what happened, Sens. They cited issues including poor communications with local police and fire crews.

"You can't even see the sky", Solomon said.

The Eagle-Tribune newspaper in North Andover reports at least one home has been destroyed and several others have caught fire amid a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

"This has been obviously an incredibly hard day", Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in a news conference early on Friday.

Tyler Medeiros, 24, was sitting on his back patio in North Andover when police sirens started to go by.

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Entire neighborhoods were being evacuated in Lawrence.