gas explosion boston
© Associated Press
Officials said residents who have gas service with Columbia Gas should leave their homes immediately
'There are so many fires, you can't see the sky':

Officials in Massachusetts say there are up to 70 fires burning in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover after problems with the natural gas system.

Multiple people have been hurt, including one firefighter in Andover. Town officials said two civilians in Andover were also injured.

In Lawrence, at least four people were said to be undergoing treatment at Lawrence General Hospital, according to WHDH. A woman trapped in her house during the explosion suffered leg injuries, and a man in a car nearby was seriously injured by a falling chimney.

According to The Eagle Tribune, officials have alerted Holy Family Hospital in Methuen to expect multiple admissions.

The Massachusetts State Police said in a tweet on Thursday that residents in the affected areas who have gas service from Columbia Gas 'should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not done so'.

They updated the tweet to say that Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is asking all residents of South Lawrence to evacuate their homes.
boston gas explosion
© Mass State Police/Twitter
'This is addition to evacuation of all Columbia Gas customers in Lawrence/Andover/North Andover,' state police said. 'Utility cos shutting off several thousand meters.'

Officials said residents who have gas service with Columbia Gas should leave their homes immediately.The fires started Thursday in parts of Massachusetts and are being attributed to problems with the gas system
gas explosion Boston
© Associted Press
The fires destroyed at least 50 homes in the Boston area, according to local media reported.
gas explosions Boston
© European Press Agency
Firefighters battle a fire in a house in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Thursday. Gas in the area has been shut down as crews battle the flames
'Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time,' police said. In a follow-up, the state police said that the power company would be shutting off power to all of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover 'to assist in the gas situation'.

Rivera said residents in South Lawrence looking for information on the gas and fire incidents should call 211.
gas explosions Boston
© Associated Press
A house was destroyed in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Thursday following multiple gas explosions
Lt. Edward Guy, spokesman for the Andover Police Department, said: 'There are multiple basement fires in Andover. It's some kind of gas issue. We urge residents if they are smelling gas to get out of the house and contact 911. We will get units out there.'

Officials said gas lines are currently being depressurized but it can take some time.Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told The Eagle Tribune that he's 'never seen anything like this'.

There are reports that multiple have been injured following multiple gas explosions in the Boston area

The Massachusetts State Police released an image of a map showing where the fires are. Officials confirmed there are up to 70 fires burning
gas explosions Boston
© Massachusetts State Police
The Massachusetts State Police released an image of a map showing where the fires are. Officials confirmed there are up to 70 fires burning
Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said there are so many fires 'you can't even see the sky'. The fires have destroyed at least 50 homes, according to reports.

One home in Lawrence was blown off its foundation,' according to WCVB. A neighbor told the outlet that multiple people were inside at the time. The neighbor said he saw some of the residents in the home trying to crawl out of the debris.

At the peak of the explosion, 18 fires were burning in Andover at one time, officials. All the fires in Andover have been extinguished, where a total of 35 fires were reported.

Residents and business owners in the area were told to stay away until officials confirm that it's safe for them to return.

An emergency operations center has been set up at the Public Safety Complex in Andover and an emergency system protocol has been enacted. Residents can also seek shelter at the Andover Senior Center and the Andover Youth Center.

Andover High School is also available for those who have been displaced by the fires. The gas at the school has been shut off to ensure there is no explosion.

Officials are using Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority buses as evacuation vehicles. Fire crews will remain in the Massachusetts town throughout the evening.

The Andover Fire-Rescue Department struck a 10-alarm response, its maximum traditional fire response, to battle the blazes, the Eagle Tribune reports. That sent 20 fire engines and 10 fire ladder trucks to the area but some of them were diverted to deal with fires in other areas.

Fire Chief Michael Mansfield requested additional trucks to respond to Andover through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. An additional 20 engines and ladder trucks were dispatched to the town. Ten ambulances were also sent to Andover to transport injured people to the hospital.

CBS News Boston reports:

Emergency crews have responded to at least 70 addresses for fires, explosions or the investigation of gas odor.

There were a total of 35 fires in Andover alone. All fires have been extinguished, but at peak, 18 fires were burning at the same time. At least three people have been injured in Andover, including one firefighter and at least two civilians.

Lawrence General Hospital is currently treating six patients from the gas explosion. Two patients are in critical condition.

ABC News reports:

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized, but officials who responded to the area were still investigating the cause. State officials said Columbia Gas was working to ease pressure on gas lines following the fires.

Columbia had announced earlier Thursday that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighborhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. It was not clear whether work was happening there Thursday, and a spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.

Joseph Solomon, the police chief in nearby Methuen, said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence when he responded to help. He said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky."

Soon after 7 p.m., officials in Andover said all fires in the town had been extinguished. Around the same time, State Police said electricity was being shut off for all residents in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, where some were still reporting an odor tied to natural gas.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles (40 kilometers) north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border. Lawrence, the largest of them, is a majority Latino city with a population of about 80,000.