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Gas Explosion Blamed In Fire & Building Collapse That Killed 8-Year-Old Boy; 911 Calls Released

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Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Fire Department releases a cause in the East Baltimore fire that killed an 8-year-old boy walking home from school.

Investigators say it was a gas explosion, and for the first time, we’re hearing the desperate 911 calls.

Meghan McCorkell has the final report.

Investigators say a natural gas explosion in the basement caused the house to collapse right onto the sidewalk.

Caller: “The entire house is on fire. The whole side of the house collapsed.”

Caller: “I got kids trapped in the house. I got kids trapped in the house.”

Frantic calls for help after an East Baltimore rowhouse explodes.

Caller: “The side of the house just blew up and children were walking by. We don’t know if they’re under the bricks.”

Bystanders dug through rubble, searching for 8-year-old Troy Douglas, who was crushed underneath.

Now, according to an investigators report obtained by WJZ, the cause of the fire has been ruled “natural gas coming in contact with an ignition source.”

“Sometimes, I look for him to walk through the door hoping it wasn’t him,” Troy’s grandmother, Verilyn Douglas, said.

She wants more answers about why the explosion happened.

“It could have been worse. It could have been more than him,” she said.

BGE officials say following the explosion they did a thorough review of the natural gas system in the area and found it operating safely.

In a statement, BGE CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr. said:

“The fire department investigation report indicates that natural gas was likely involved.  We continue to investigate how natural gas could have been a factor.  If the investigation reveals we failed to live up to our high standards we will take all appropriate actions.”

Neighbors tell WJZ they’ve often reported the smell of gas.

“You smell gas and they say that’s what it was–a gas explosion. How far is it from me? I’m kind of scared and skeptical about being down here,” said neighbor Delores Williams.

Douglas’ family wants someone held accountable, so they can try to move on.

“If they did something about it, he’d still be here,” his grandmother said.

BGE officials say they will continue to work with the fire department in their investigation.

Another child and two adults were also injured in the explosion.

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