Massachusetts suspected gas explosions hits dozens of homes and buildings, officials say  9/13/2018 9:50:08 PM   Nicole Darrah

Massachusetts authorities confirmed at least 39 homes or buildings were hit Thursday night as "suspected gas explosions" hit several communities outside of Boston.

State Police (MSP) tweeted that while dozens of locations were confirmed to be affected by "fires and explosions" in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, the number "will grow.

Residents in the aforementioned towns that are serviced by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts "should evacuate their homes immediately if they have not already done so," police advised.

"Numerous evacuations of neighborhoods where there are gas odors are underway," MSP tweeted. While they added it's "far too early to speculate on cause," Columbia Gas is worked to depressurize its gas lines, which "will take some time."

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said that in Lawrence alone, there are roughly 20 to 25 homes on fire. He said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky."

Soloman said there are no fires in Methuen, but the town's emergency officials are sending aid to areas in need.

The North Andover Police Department advised residents with gas service in their homes or businesses to "please exit the building until further notice."

Some residents are being evacuated from their homes to senior centers and middle schools as officials investigate the situation, police said. It was not immediately clear whether anyone sustained injuries.

Merrimack College, which is located in North Andover, tweeted that "in an over abundance of caution, students faculty and staff must evacuate buildings on campus immediately."

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque told WFXT it appears as though the explosions were sparked by a gas issue, but MSP tweeted it's too early to speculate as to what triggered the fires.

This is a developing story; please check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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