39 Homes Exploded Near Boston, Hundreds Of Homes On Fire, 18-Year-Old Killed

Deadly gas-line explosions tore through several communities north of Boston on Thursday, setting homes on fire, forcing evacuations across three towns and leaving at least one person dead and 10 people hospitalized.

Hours later — after a traumatic afternoon of fiery chaos turned into a night of eerie darkness with power shut off for thousands — officials were still unsure exactly what caused the blasts, or when it would be safe for the evacuated residents of Lawrence, North Andover and Andover to return home.

State police received between 60 and 100 reports of structure fires and gas explosions in the three communities, and fire crews battled dozens of simultaneous blazes.

“It looked like Armageddon,” Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters. “ There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see plumes of smoke in front of me…. It just looked like an absolute war zone.”

Authorities reported one fatality, 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, who died after an explosion sent a chimney crashing into his car.

“This has obviously been an incredibly difficult day,” Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said at an overnight news briefing. “I ask everyone to think of the family that lost a loved one today, and pray for everyone who’s been injured.”

North Andover residents Amanda Morera and Nick Kennedy said they watched a neighbor stumble out of his house after a small explosion. The man was not injured, they said, but looked stunned.

“He was wicked shocked,” Morera said. “Who wouldn’t be?”

The couple were still deciding whether to leave after the emergency workers told them they were better off elsewhere. They said they were probably going to spend the night with a family member in Haverhill.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   AP
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