Gas Explosion Leaves One Dead, At Least 6 Seriously Injured In Northwest Baltimore Neighborhood
At least one person is dead and six people have been transported to the hospital in critical condition after a Monday morning explosion destroyed three rowhomes in Northwest Baltimore.
The explosion occurred shortly before 10:00 a.m. at Reisterstown and Labyrinth Roads, near the Reisterstown Road Plaza shopping center and close by the city-county line. The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Over 200 rescue personnel arrived on scene, including officials from the Baltimore City Fire Department and the Baltimore County Fire Department.
Special Rescue Operations units freed a woman from rubble at around noon, and rescued a man shortly after. The multi-jurisdictional operation remains searching for missing people on the scene. One woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s a labor-intensive rescue,” Baltimore Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams said at a noon news conference. “It was a major gas explosion. You have homes that were pretty much crumbled, a ton of debris on the ground. We’re pulling, trying to comb through and try to find any additional occupants.”
At a news conference at 3:15 p.m., Adams said the search and rescue mission remains ongoing.
“We're prepared to be here through the night, as long as it takes,” Adams said. “We'll comb through every area to determine if there are victims inside."
Baltimore Gas and Electric is continuing to work on turning off gas throughout the surrounding region, Linda Foy, a company spokeswoman said.
“We’re now working to turn off the gas main, which will likely take customers out who’ve been largely unaffected by this event, but that’s what we need to do in order to make the area safe,” Foy said.
Once that happens, BGE can begin to make repairs and understand the nature of the explosion, Foy said. The rubble from the destroyed homes is currently blocking portions of the gas system.
The incident caused damage to electric lines nearby; Foy said BGE is working on restoring service while keeping the area safe.
Paul Carden of the Red Cross said the organization has established a reception center in the neighborhood and is working on delivering food and other supplies to affected residents.
There is no official number of displaced residents yet. “Once we find out how many people cannot return to their homes, we'll make arrangements for safe secure places, most likely a hotel,” Carden said.
Latanya Heath was sitting at her dining room table at her house down the block when the explosion occurred. The blast shattered her living room bay window.
"I got up because I thought, perhaps, my neighbor cutting the grass accidentally nicked a rock through the window," she said.
When Heath opened her front door and walked outside to check out what had happened, she was greeted with smoke and rubble.
"I thought, 'this is not happening,'" she said. "It was just total chaos. When I was looking out around my neighborhood, the doors have been blown off of different neighbors' homes, the windows have been blown off. It was unreal."
She said her neighbors rushed to the scene to help locate people trapped inside of the rubble.
“I want to offer my prayers to all of the people that lived in these houses and the surrounding community,” Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said.
“This is a tragedy,” City Council President Brandon Scott said. “What we need Baltimore to do right now is pray: pray that we’re able to find folks, pray that we’re able to get folks out of there, you can see the devastation that this has caused for the community.”
This story will be updated. WYPR's Sarah Kim contributed to this report.
BGE is encouraging residents that have been impacted by the explosion to call 1-800-685-0123.