The governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency on Friday after a series of gas explosions killed a teen and injured 25 others in an area just north of Boston.
Gov. Charlie Baker made the announcement at a press conference, adding that he was placing Eversource Energy, another utility company, in charge of the response.
“This is something the mayor and the lieutenant governor and I have talked about, over the course of the last hour. We determined that in fact we have the authority to do it and we’re going to do it.”
He said that placing a different utility company in charge will “make a big difference” in terms of getting information about the situation and acting to get people back to their homes.
An estimated 8,000 people were displaced after a series of natural gas explosions set off fires in 60 to 80 homes. There were evacuations in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover – just north of Boston.
Leonel Rondon, 18, died after an explosion caused a chimney to topple onto his car. He was rushed to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The state Registry of Motor Vehicles said Rondon had been issued his driver's license only hours earlier.
The utility company that serviced the affected homes, Columbia Gas, 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.
Officials were forced to shut off the gas and electricity to entire neighborhoods.
Baker said state and local authorities were investigating but it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers.
The Massachusetts' gas pipeline system is among the oldest in the country -- up to 157 years old in some places -- according to the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.