GAS EXPLOSION DISASTER IN LAWRENCE

Police and fire officials gather at the staging area in the former Showcase Cinema parking lot in Lawrence.

LAWRENCE - Rookie city police officer Ivan Soto was working on Andover Street Thursday night, helping people leave the city and preventing others from entering after a massive area gas leak sparked dozens of fires and hundreds of evacuations. 

Meanwhile, Soto's own home in the Mount Vernon neighborhood was burning, police officers said. 

Even when he was told about the fire, Soto continued working with fellow police officers in the Andover Street area.

"We relieved him. But he didn't want to leave," said Sgt. John Dushame, who was also working on Andover Street. 

Soto and his wife, Veronica, a hair salon owner, have two daughters, ages 13 and 15. 

A Go Fund Me fundraising account was started for the family on Thursday night. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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