UPDATED: Suspected gas explosions rock Massachusetts towns as dozens of homes burst into flames

70 houses exploded or caught fire in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

A house in Lawrence, Massachusetts burns after a suspected natural gas explosion on September 13, 2018. (Twitter/@NBC10)
A house in Lawrence, Massachusetts burns after a suspected natural gas explosion on September 13, 2018. (Twitter/@NBC10)

Residents of multiple Massachusetts towns are under evacuation orders and without power Thursday evening following a series of suspected natural gas explosions.

The Massachusetts State Police warned all residents of Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover who use Columbia Gas to “evacuate their homes if they have not already done so.”

State police also warned that electricity would be shut off in all three impacted towns as authorities tried to get the situation under control.


At least 39 fires erupted due to suspected natural gas explosions, according to authorities. A spokesperson from Massachusetts’ fire marshal’s office told the Boston Globe overpressurization of natural gas lines is the suspected cause. Massachusetts State Police tweeted that “Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company it will take some time” on Thursday evening.

Video from CBS Boston’s Meagan Kolkmann showed thick clouds of smoke over Lawrence and Andover:

WBZ Boston’s Eric Fisher said the smoke from burning houses was appearing on local radar:

Boston 25 News’ Adam Liberatore tweeted out footage of a home in Lawrence that had exploded:

The Boston Globe noted Columbia Gas’ website mentions maintenance work in the affected areas:

The Columbia Gas website said in a posting dated Thursday, “We’ll be upgrading natural gas lines in neighborhoods across the state.” The site said that four projects were underway in Lawrence, four in Andover, and three in North Andover.

North Andover resident Garry Frizzell told the Globe, “This is like Armageddon. I was at the Boston Marathon bombings and this reminds me of that.”

Columbia Gas services around 50,000 customers in that part of Massachusetts, per the company’s website.

UPDATE: Massachusetts State Police said authorities are responding to 70 fires in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover on Thursday evening.

Lawrence General Hospital tweeted it is treating 10 people for injuries that “range from smoke inhalation to traumatic blast injuries.” Andover officials announced that three residents were injured, including a firefighter, and its public schools will be closed on Friday.