The Latest: At least 4 injured in fires blamed on gas issue in Massachusetts

Photo courtesy: MGN/CNN
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LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) - The Latest on gas explosions in Massachusetts (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

A man whose neighborhood was among dozens that erupted in fire in communities north of Boston says he ran into his basement to find that the room was glowing.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Nam says he ran downstairs and saw that his boiler was on fire. He says he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.

Minutes later, Nam says he heard a loud boom come from his neighbor's house and the ground shook. Nam said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house, but the basement was on fire.

Massachusetts State Police say officials will be shutting off power to all residents in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

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6:55 p.m.

At least four people are being treated for injuries after a series of fires north of Boston that authorities blame on a natural gas issue.

Lawrence General Hospital says it has treated four victims with fire-related injuries but did not immediately release their conditions or the severity of the injuries.

State Police say at least 39 fires erupted Thursday afternoon in the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Residents in those areas with homes that are serviced by Columbia gas have been urged to evacuate.

State Police say Columbia Gas crews are working to depressurize gas lines in the area. A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately return calls.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Boston.

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6:45 p.m.

Authorities in Massachusetts say a natural gas issue is to blame for at least 39 fires that erupted in homes across communities in Boston.

A spokesman for the Andover Police Department says residents in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover whose homes are serviced by Columbia Gas were urged to evacuate on Thursday afternoon.

Massachusetts State Police say Columbia Gas is working to depressurize gas lines in the area. A company spokeswoman did not immediately provide comment.

State Police say they have confirmed fires at 39 locations but warn the number will grow.

The three communities house more than 146,000 residents and are located about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Boston.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon in nearby Methuen says there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky."

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5:10 PM

Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon says there are 20 to 25 homes on fire in Lawrence. Solomon, who's in Lawrence, says there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky."

The Eagle-Tribune newspaper in North Andover reports at least one home has been destroyed and several others have caught fire amid a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

Massachusetts State Police say troopers are responding to the area to help secure areas after "multiple suspected gas explosions."

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told The Eagle-Tribune that he's "never seen anything like this."

The newspaper reported that some neighborhoods were being evacuated.

It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries.