The authorities responded to dozens of fires and explosions blamed on Thursday afternoon for a gas problem in the Merrimack Valley.

The state police says Columbia gas customers in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to evacuate the building.

Massachusetts State Security Marshal's Office said it sent three investigators to the Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover areas. They said they responded to a high-pressure gas pipeline issue involving several homes in the area.

It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries.

Sky 5 was hit by several major fires involving several homes near Chickering Road and Springfield Street in Lawrence. At least 12 building fires were burned unmanned because no fire crews were available.

Another house on Chickering Road was reduced to a pile of rubble by an explosion.

Andover city officials are asking everyone in homes and businesses to evacuate.

North Andover officials said there was no evacuation order throughout the city, but those who feel insecure or smell gas should immediately evacuate.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera estimates there are between 20 and 25 fires in town.

"If people smell gas or see fire in / around the house, evacuate," said the mayor.

The mayor of North Andover, Andrew Mayor, said many commercial properties are affected throughout the city, with alarms in several buildings, including First and Main Street. There were no immediate reports of injuries in his community.

The mayor said he had been told that the incidents were related to increased gas pressure.

Mutual assistance was requested from Cape Ann to southern New Hampshire.

Columbia Gas manages the gas equipment in the region and was not immediately available for comment. There are an estimated 51,000 Columbia Gas customers in the region.

Delays were reported on the MBTA Haverhill Line.

No additional information was available immediately.

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