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Flames consuming a home in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Photo via CBS Boston Youtube page

Firefighters have responded to at least 70 reported fires and explosions at homes caused by over-pressurized natural gas lines in three Massachusetts towns, according to state police, forcing neighborhoods to evacuate as first responders scramble to secure scenes and prevent further damage.

The big picture: The explosions underscore the inherent risks of relying on fuels that can be explosive, Axios' Amy Harder writes. This is likely to add to already intense opposition to natural gas across the U.S., particularly in New England. America has become increasingly reliant on the fuel over the last decade as fracking and other extraction techniques helped unlock new supplies.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The details: The AP reports that at least six people with fire-related injuries are being treated at nearby hospitals, but their conditions and severity of the injuries are unknown.

  • Photographs and videos from the scenes show houses bursting into flames with thick smoke. The AP also reports that the three communities house more than 146,000 residents.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the increase in affected homes.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.