1 dead, 10 injured in Massachusetts house fires after gas line issue

By Daniel Uria

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- One person was killed Thursday as dozens of house fires burned in Massachusetts after reports of issues with the natural gas system.

The Essex County District Attorney's office identified the victim as 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, who died at Mass General Hospital around 8:30 p.m. after being injured in a house explosion, Mass Live reorted.


"Mr. Rondon was inside a car near 35 Chickering Rd in Lawrence when a chimney from a house explosion fell on the car," the district attorney's office said.

At least 10 other people were injured as explosions and fires affected nearly 40 homes and businesses in the state, CNN reported.

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Massachusetts State Police said officers responded to at least 70 reports of fires, explosions and investigations of gas odor as of Thursday evening.

Andover officials issued a statement saying that all 35 fires in the town had been extinguished after as many as 18 were burning consecutively at the peak of the situation.

"There are multiple basement fires in Andover. It's some kind of gas issue," Andover Police Department spokesman Lt. Edward Guy told Massachusetts' Eagle Tribune newspaper earlier in the day. "We urge residents if they are smelling gas to get out of the house and contact 911. We will get units out there."

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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said the issue appeared to be in the southeast part of the city and urged residents to quickly leave their homes if they smell gas.

"What we know is that there have been multiple explosions, multiple fires that are happening across the city," Rivera said. "What we need folks to do is that if it's happening in your home, you have a funny smell, just evacuate, come out to the street."

The North Andover area is covered by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, but its electric provider National Grid said electric crews were responding to assist.

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North Andover police drove through the downtown area to warn residents to evacuate their homes if they smelled gas and diverted officers to Lawrence to assist.

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