Investigators Hunt for Answers in Mass. Gas Explosions

The NTSB has joined the investigation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2018 4:15 PM CDT
A collapsed home and car sit damaged in Lawrence, Mass. Authorities said Leonel Rondon died after the chimney toppled by the exploding house crashed into his car in the driveway.   (Carl Russo/The Eagle-Tribune via AP)
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(Newser) – Investigators worked Friday to pinpoint the cause of a series of fiery natural gas explosions that killed a teen driver in his car just hours after he got his license, injured at least 25 others, and left dozens of homes in smoldering ruins. Authorities said an estimated 8,000 people were displaced at the height of Thursday's post-explosion chaos in three towns north of Boston rocked by the disaster, the AP reports. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to help investigate the disaster in a state where some of the aging gas pipeline system dates to the 1860s. The rapid-fire series of gas explosions that one official described as "Armageddon" ignited fires in 60 to 80 homes in the working-class towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

Gas and electricity remained shut down Friday in most of the area. Gov. Charlie Baker, who declared a state of emergency, says authorities are investigating but it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized but said investigators were still examining what happened. Columbia Gas 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 return calls seeking comment.

(Read more Massachusetts stories.)

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