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Eastern Mass. residents evacuated, without power after series of explosions

LAWRENCE, Mass. (NEWS10) - Towns in Massachusetts were evacuated on Thursday due to dozens of explosions.

Nairi Melkonian teaches at the Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover, which is only .5-mile away from the center of the explosions. She described it as a waiting game because she’s unsure what her students will arrive home to.

“We don’t know where these kids are going to go right now,” she said.

Fires and explosions rocked Lawrence, Andover and North Andover from gas lines serviced by Columbia Gas ignited. Melkonian and her students are waiting to find out if they’ll be able to go home Thursday night.

At last count, the Massachusetts State Police confirmed at least 70 fires, explosions, and investigations of gas odors. That number is expected to grow.

“The highways are like a parking lot,” she said. “You can’t even get out of our schools. They’ve shut off all the roads into Lawrence.”

Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover are at the heart of where police and fire crews are stationed. In a statement on Twitter, the Androver Town Manager called it a “major gas emergency.”

The three towns remain in the dark Thursday night as both gas and electricity were shut off. More than 10,000 are without power. The Town of Andover warned residents to not use candles if they’re in gas serviced areas.

“One way or another someone knows somebody who is going to be affected by this.”

As students wait to be reunited with their parents at her school, Melkonian asks one thing from those watching from afar:

“Keep your prayers with us, and hopefully, everyone will be safe tonight.”

Andover’s official Twitter account said all fires in Andover had been extinguished.

Several patients were admitted to the hospital. Multiple were listed in critical condition. Massachusetts State Police confirm an 18-year-old male was killed after a chimney from a house explosion fell on his car. 


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