OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ) — Two contractors and one student were injured after an explosion at the McDonogh School in Baltimore County Wednesday morning.
Firefighters were called to the Owings Mills private school around 8:31 a.m. for a report of an explosion. The first firefighters to arrive saw that there was an explosion at a smokestack known on campus as the Shot Tower.
Two of the patients- an adult and a child were taken to local hospitals. The third, an adult was treated at the scene.
“They found bricks strewn all throughout the vicinity and that the top of the tower had been blown off,” Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman with the BCFD, said.
Update, #McDonogh school explosion, #OwingsMills: 1 adult and 1 child transported w non life threatening injuries. Explosion damaged the shot tower, a smokestack for the boiler room. EA pic.twitter.com/6UJItHtVKy
— Baltimore County Fire Department (@BaltCoFire) September 18, 2019
In a statement on their website, the McDonogh School said the explosion happened while an outside contractor was working in the school’s boiler room.
At approximately 8:30 a.m., an explosion occurred in the school’s boiler room while work was being performed by an outside contractor. The explosion caused a partial collapse of the adjacent smokestack.
All students, faculty, and staff are safe. One student sustained a minor injury. The student was evaluated at a local hospital and released. Two outside contractors also sustained minor injuries, one of them was transported to a local hospital for evaluation as well.
The area of the explosion has been cordoned off. While the campus was deemed safe by first responders, McDonogh decided to take the safest course of action and students were dismissed at 11:00 a.m. All afternoon and evening activities are canceled.
We have contacted a structural engineer to assess the building and ensure that the surrounding area is safe.
The smokestack is not connected to a classroom building at the school, but rather the Allan building, a maintenance building. There were some students and staff inside a nearby building at the time of the explosion.
“They obviously heard this very loud sound and went on a brief lockdown,” Armacost said, until they determined the cause of the noise and self-evacuated.
This picture circulating after students hear an explosion at #McDonoghSchool – they say about 1/3 of this building they refer to as the ‘smokestack’ was blown off in the blast @wjz pic.twitter.com/E9WZeTTLMm
— Rachael Cardin (@RachaelCardin) September 18, 2019
Officials said the two contractors, who were inside the boiler room area at the time of the explosion, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. A student also suffered minor injuries after debris struck him. According to the school, the student was evaluated at a local hospital.
WJZ’s Rachel Cardin spoke to some students as they left school, including a student who said he was injured. He told WJZ he was struck by falling debris but is OK and drove himself off-campus.
“Me and my friend were walking, and all of a sudden, we heard a really big bang,” Jake Alecce, a student who was hit by falling debris, said. “We looked up and saw the bricks coming down and we just started running the opposite way of the bricks. I’m lucky I got out. I got a little cut on my leg, but other than that, I’m okay. Thoughts out to the ones who got hurt more than I did. It was just a scary experience. I’m glad I’m alright.”
Many of the kids said they’re grateful everyone is ok.
Parents were able to officially come get their kids for dismissal at 11 a.m., the students who drive themselves to school left right after the campus was closed for the day and it was safe for them to leave.
WJZ spoke to one senior who said if this had happened any later many more people could have gotten hurt and they’re glad the school handled their safety the way they did.
“The bricks just kind of fell and there was a big smoke cloud,” Roc Damico, a student, said. “It just kind of blew away with the wind and everything. There were a couple of kids who had to run away from the bricks when it fell. It was pretty crazy.”
Although there was an explosion, officials said there was no fire. When crews arrived they marked out a collapse zone and determined no one was trapped and there were no additional victims. The fire department said collapse team personnel were evaluating the stability of the building.
Baltimore Gas and Electric and Baltimore County Fire Department crews cleared the scene at the school.
From Chopper 13, students could be seen leaving school just before 11 a.m.
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the explosion.
The school said a structural engineer determined the area around the smokestack is safe.