Indiana company connected to MA gas explosion that killed 1, hurt 25

A damaged house on Jefferson Street, in Lawrence, Mass., is seen Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
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LAWRENCE, Mass. (WTHR, AP) — A series of natural gas explosions killed a teenager, hurt 25 more and left dozens of homes in smouldering ruins.

The teen was identified as 18-year-old Leonel Rondon of Lawrence, Massachusetts. he died after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his car.

Investigators said the explosions took place Thursday because of "over-pressurization of a gas main" that belongs to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. Columbia is a subsidiary of Merrillville, Indiana-based NiSource. Shares of NiSource plunged 8 percent in premarket trading Friday morning, according to CNBC.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency blamed the fires on gas lines that had become over-pressurized but said investigators were still examining what happened.

The rapid-fire series of gas explosions that one official described as "Armageddon" ignited fires in at least 39 homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas and electricity. Gas remained shut off Friday in most of the area, and the streets were eerily deserted.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did," Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters. "There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover."

Authorities said an estimated 8,000 people were displaced at the height of Thursday's post-explosions chaos, though some were cleared to return to their homes in one of the three towns, which are north of Boston.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate, saying pipelines are within its jurisdiction.

Columbia 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.

The Associated Press contributed to portions of this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.