A series of gas explosions in a neighborhood near Boston on Thursday left one person dead and more than a dozen injured.
Leonel Rondon, 18, was killed when a chimney collapsed on his car following a series of explosions in the towns of Lawrence, North Andover, and surrounding communities about 30 miles north of central Boston, BuzzFeed News reports.
According to the Massachusetts State Police, upwards of 70 separate incidents were reported in the area, prompting a heavy emergency response.
MSP Fusion Center has current updated tally of responses to fires/explosions/investigations of gas odor at 70. Spread over wide swath of south #Lawrence and northern part of #NorthAndover with several others across Merrimack River in north Lawrence. pic.twitter.com/a7kBYaWFrJ— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) September 13, 2018
"I've been in the fire service for almost 39 years and I've never seen anything like this in my entire career. It looked like Armageddon," Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters Thursday night, describing the fires as "an overwhelming event," adding that his crews would put one fire out and "find the next building on fire as well."
Despite the heavy emergency response, which saw 50 firefighting vehicles and 20 ambulances, resources were still spread thin, with several homes being left to burn as crews were unable to respond.
As many as 33,000 people in the towns of Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover were urged to "evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so," though it is not yet known the exact total of people who evacuated. Several areas also opened their doors to accept animals who were affected by the fires and explosions.
Residents in the affected towns of Lawrence/North Andover/Andover who have gas service from Columbia Gas should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so. Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time.— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) September 13, 2018
Lawrence General Hospital stated that they had received a total of 13 patients as a result of the gas fires in Lawrence, with one patient said to be in critical condition. That patient was transported to Boston trauma center for further treatment.
Injuries were said to have ranged from "minor to smoke inhalation and blast trauma," with several other patients being treated for existing medical conditions that needed "assistance because of the fires." Several patients were treated and released, but several more remain hospitalized.
Although the exact cause of the explosions is not known, it is suspected that they resulted from an issue with gas service, with some lines said to have been overpressurized. Gas service was being shut off to the affected areas and gas lines were being depressurized.