Sept. 14 (UPI) — At least four people were injured as dozens of house fires burned in Massachusetts after reports of issues with the natural gas system Thursday.
Lawrence General Hospital treated four victims with fire-related injuries, a hospital spokeswoman told Mass Live. Their conditions and the extent of their injuries weren’t immediately disclosed.
Officials in Andover said a firefighter and two civilians were injured, but it wasn’t clear if they were among those taken to be treated at the hospital.
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.”
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.
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.