Mass evacuation underway after huge explosions near Boston

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He declared a state of emergency in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover and said that allows him to put Eversource - "the organization that we want to have manage this effort".

Police drove up and down streets with bull horns telling residents to vacate their homes immediately.

Warren said she was disappointed not to receive a call back when she reached out to the company.

Guilia Holland, a 35-year-old mechanic in a wheelchair, said she had just gotten off a bus returning home when she saw "a big flash of light" at the house where she had been renting a room for a month. "I don't think that anybody else managing this would've been further down the road than we are at the moment".

"We believe that will make a change", Baker said during a Friday afternoon press conference.

"Cases range from smoke inhalation to traumatic blast injuries", the hospital said, adding that one patient had been taken to another hospital.

"At this time, the focus remains on ensuring the public safety", Baker said. "We grieve for the loss. and continue to support first responders".

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said it appeared the gas lines had become over-pressurised.

What do we know about the victims?

. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of MA called for a congressional hearings on the explosions and fires.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", he told reporters. "There's oftentimes a tendency, when there are accidents like this, for a company to huddle down, to try to protect their shareholders when their one goal should be just to protect the people who they are serving. It's going to be on your mind, like hey, what's going to happen?"

Thursday evening, homes erupted in flames across the three towns, consumed by more than 60 suspected gas fires.

The State Police Fusion Center said the gas explosions and reports were "spread across a wide swath" of South Lawrence, North Andover and in North Lawrence.

A house is destroyed in Lawrence after a series of gas explosions in the area.

The fatality occured when a chimney collapsed onto a auto.

Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the vehicle when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH. He said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house but the basement was on fire.

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Entire neighborhoods were being evacuated in Lawrence. Three people rushed out. Andover officials said a firefighter was among the injured.

"This has been an overwhelming event", Mansfield said. "I've never seen anything like this".

Red Cross reception centers were setup at the Andover Senior Center and Youth Center, North Andover High School, as well as Parthum and Arlington Schools in Lawrence.

Live TV images showed firefighters battling blazes in the former mill towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, about 25 miles (40 km) north of the MA capital. The supply cuts were affecting about 18,000 customers as of 7 a.m., National Grid said on its website.

The blazes left 8,000 people unable to go home Thursday.

Schools were to be closed Friday in Lawrence and Andover.

The adjacent town of Andover was also involved.

"Our big concern is making sure we keep track of all our people and our engine crew keeps everybody together so we don't lose anybody in the chaos", Warren said. "However, it will take a number of years to eliminate the aging pipe from the gas distribution system".

Fire investigators suspected "over-pressurisation of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas of MA, a unit of the utility NiSource Inc, caused the explosions, Andover fire chief Michael Mansfield told a news conference.

The area is served by the Columbia Gas of MA unit of NiSource, whose shares fell 11.7 percent to close at $24.79 on Friday. Andover, North Andover and Lawrence were included in the planned projects. Gas remained shut off on Friday (Saturday NZT) in most of the area, and the streets were eerily deserted. It's unclear whether that incident was related to Thursday's fire and explosions.

Hours after the explosions, the utility's parent company issued a brief statement saying its crews were still performing safety checks in the area.

At the peak of the situation, they say 18 fires were burning at the same time in Andover.

The explosions and emergency response caused Amtrak to cancel four train routes between Boston and Maine.

Officials from the state's Department of Public Utilities were in the Merrimack Valley investigating Friday.

The utility said it was "working with the appropriate authorities to investigate this incident in order to understand its cause".