Cop’s devastation after heroic act
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
■ Dozens of explosions and fires have affected three towns north of Boston, Massachusetts
■ Evacuation orders were in place for homes in Lawrence, Andover, North Andover and along the Merrimack River
■ Explosions caused by problem with a gas line
■ One person has died - 18-year-old Leonel Rondon was crushed by a chimney which fell on his car
■ At least 25 people have been injured and dozens of homes ruined
■ A state of emergency has been declared
■ It could be weeks before gas is returned
A POLICE officer has lost his own home while helping others escape a series of deadly gas explosions that rocked Boston this week.
The blasts were apparently caused by the Colombia Gas Company's over-pressurised gas lines, and resulted in dozens of fires across the US towns of Lawrence, Andover, North Andover - a situation described as "Armageddon" by one official.
But amid the chaos, stories of heroism have emerged.
One involves police officer Ivan Soto, who was so dedicated to helping residents escape the danger he left his own home to burn while saving others.
Mr Soto, of Lawrence, arrived at his home on Thursday after it caught fire while one of his daughters was home alone.
She fled to neighbours Christel and James Nazario, and her father arrived soon after.
But after ordering the Nazarios to evacuate and ensuring his wife and teenage daughters Destiny, 15, and Aalyah, 13, were safe, Mr Soto then returned to work while his house was ablaze, even after his superiors told him to sign off.
By the following day, the Soto home was all but ruined.
Christel Nazario spoke of her neighbour's selfless actions to the Associated Press.
"He actually stayed on duty even though his house was burning down," she said.
"I don't know how he did it."
Sargeant John Dushame told The Eagle Tribune Mr Soto has insisted on working despite his own loss.
"We relieved him. But he didn't want to leave," he said.
A GoFundMe fundraising page has been set up for the family, describing the Sotos as the type of people who would "give the shirts off their backs for anyone in need".
So far, $AU53,128 has been raised.
Meanwhile, the governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, has declared a state of emergency as the Boston area grapples with the disaster which has led to gas and electricity being shut down across entire neighbourhoods.
Mr Baker said authorities were now investigating the incident and that more than 100 technicians were ensuring homes are safe to re-enter.
But he warned it could take weeks to find answers - and officials also say it could take a number of weeks before gas is restored to some homes.
Several US senators have already demanded a Senate hearing into the natural gas explosions.