BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two people were killed and seven people were injured in a gas explosion in a northwest Baltimore neighborhood Monday morning.
Crews continue searching the rubble with the help of K9 units to find any other victims. On Monday afternoon, they pulled another victim out of the rubble; no information on the person’s status is available.
Large equipment was also brought in to help move the debris out of the way.
A Community Rocked
The explosion happened around 9:54 a.m. along Labyrinth Road at Reisterstown Road near Brookhill Road. Three homes collapsed and the force of the explosion and debris blew out windows and doors in nearby homes.
Baltimore City fire officials said a woman and a man died and seven others were taken to area hospitals to be treated, some with critical injuries. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
A security camera caught the blast:
The fire department later reported the number of people injured to be seven.
W. Baltimore explosion update: So far 7 people transported & 1 person confirmed dead. We will we will provide updates as they become available.
— Baltimore Fire (@BaltimoreFire) August 10, 2020
One man told WJZ’s Paul Gessler that three members of his family were injured in the explosion, but all are expected to recover.
VIDEO: Ray Daniels, a family member of 3 victims, describes neighbors who risked their safety to rescue survivors as "angels". He says his niece, nephew, and sister are all "OK", despite burns and bruises.
Here's what he and some of the "angels" told me throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/fHQLgDx0fw
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) August 10, 2020
Reisterstown Road is closed between Clarks Lane and Fallstaff Road. Motorists are advised to take alternative routes. In addition, gas service remains off in part of the 4200 block of Labyrinth Road.
The gas infrastructure in the area dates back to the early 1960s and was last inspected in June and July 2019, Baltimore Gas & Electric said. Prior to Monday’s explosion, there had been no gas odors reported in the area.
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A woman is carted away from the NW Baltimore explosion scene. Neighbors applauded. pic.twitter.com/88ib0JqMJJ
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) August 10, 2020
City, Community Respond
City councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer said housing inspectors are on scene to inspect the homes in the area and that there’s been damage reported five blocks away.
City crews helped residents board up damaged windows and doors while the American Red Cross helped displaced residents.
The group also has counselors present.
“Once we find out how many people cannot return to their homes, we’ll make arrangements for them to find a safe secure place to stay tonight, most likely a hotel,” Paul Carden with the Red Cross said.
On Tuesday, the Red Cross will work one-on-one with the families whose homes have been destroyed, who have injured family members or who have lost a loved one. Their services will include mental health, spiritual health, and health services. They’ll also have volunteers providing financial assistance information and referrals.
Residents displaced by the blast can visit two American Red Cross stations in the area. One is set up behind the Applebee’s restaurant, 6798 Reisterstown Road, and the other is at the Milbrook Park Apartments, 6806 Milbrook Park Drive.
Neighbors and other groups also handed out water and food. The group is also collecting donations of food and other essentials outside the Applebee’s.
BGE is investigating what caused the explosion.
BGE is grateful for the prompt and skilled response by the Baltimore City Fire and Police Departments and responding BGE crew members.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with those injured and the family members of the deceased. This remains an active emergency recovery effort led by the Fire Department.
Public safety is our first priority. Our crews have now inspected the Labyrinth Road gas main and canvassed all surrounding buildings. No gas readings were found in any of the buildings and no leaks were found on the Labyrinth Road gas main or services. Our crews are continuing to inspect area gas mains and services for safety and will make any necessary repairs if any issues are found.
All gas service is off to a portion of the 4200 block of Labyrinth Rd. This is a standard safety procedure to aid in emergency response efforts and to ensure safety. Some electric lines in the area were damaged and crews have repaired those lines to restore power to all nearby residents who lost power.
The cause of this morning’s explosion is currently unknown and we will be working with the Fire Department to investigate. BGE is committed to fully understanding the cause of this incident and will inspect all BGE equipment once rescue efforts are complete. This is an active investigation and we cannot speculate on the possible causes.
Our records indicate the following:
- This area’s gas infrastructure was installed in the early 1960s.
- No gas odors were reported prior to this morning’s event and BGE did not receive any recent gas odor calls from the block of homes that were damaged.
- BGE’s most recent inspection of the gas mains and services in the area occurred in June and July of 2019 and did not identify any leaks.
Once again, we thank the emergency responders and we are committed to working with them to determine what occurred. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and the family members of the deceased.
As always, anyone with any gas safety concerns should contact BGE from a safe location at 877-778-7798 or call 911. We will respond immediately to make the situation safe.
Tasha Jamerson with BGE said residents should continue to report if they smell gas by calling 1-877-685-0123.
As of 9:15 p.m. Monday, 38 customers were without gas service. More than 200 had been without power, but crews have since restored electricity to all but seven homes in the area.
Several fire companies from nearby counties, like Baltimore and Howard counties, are helping with the search, as well as the ATF, Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, FEMA and the Red Cross.
ATF Baltimore Special Agents and Explosives Enforcement Officer are responding to assist our @BaltimoreFire partners at the scene of an explosion at Labyrinth and Reisterstown Roads involving 3 homes. Follow @BaltimoreFire for updates on this incident. pic.twitter.com/kyIsEAGHSI
— ATF Baltimore (@ATFBaltimore) August 10, 2020
Gov. Larry Hogan thanked first responders and said state officials are monitoring the situation.
We are closely monitoring the situation in northwest Baltimore following this morning’s horrific explosion. We have reached out to offer our full support to the ongoing response and recovery efforts, and are deeply grateful to the first responders on the scene.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) August 10, 2020
In a statement, Hogan also said:
“This morning, an explosion destroyed three homes in the Reisterstown Station neighborhood in northwest Baltimore. First responders are still performing rescue operations, and several victims have been transported to area hospitals. So far, we know that the explosion has taken one life. Our prayers are with the victims and all those affected by this tragedy.”
“The Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and the Maryland Public Service Commission are all assisting on the ground. We continue to offer the State of Maryland’s full support to local officials.”
A video posted on the Citizen app video shows the immediate aftermath of the explosion (Note: Language is NSFW).
Three Rescued, Additional People Trapped After Three-Home Explosion @CitizenApp
Eyewitnesses told WJZ they heard a large boom and felt the ground shake for at least a four-block radius. Debris was seen scattered in the roadway and rubble sat where three homes once stood.
Employees at the nearby Applebees told WJZ they could feel the explosion a couple of blocks away.
“I heard a kaboom and I thought it was a car or something and when I came out, I seen the debris and something’s gone, totally gone,” one man told WJZ reporter Paul Gessler.
Another man, Dean Jones, told WJZ when he heard the explosion he ran from his home without any shoes. When he arrived at where the explosion happened he could hear someone saying “help” from under the rubble.
“It was catastrophic. It was like a bomb, like you watch things in other countries where they have like bombings and things like that,” Jones said. “It was like watching that in real life. Telephone poles split, I mean, houses down the block, broken glass. When I initially got there, I could hear a voice just saying ‘Help,’ it’s crazy. It’s something I don’t ever wanna see ever again; I don’t want to relive it ever again.”
He said he did all he could to help until first responders arrived. Jones said he smelled smoke and gas at the scene.
Chopper 13 showed just how large the explosion area is and how far the debris spread.
Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes, many sitting in the shade because of the heat. Many donned masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to stay safe while helping their neighbors.
WJZ reporters and other eyewitnesses at the scene said they smelled gas at the scene at various points throughout the day.
WJZ reporters Paul Gessler, Annie Rose Ramos, Ava-joye Burnett, Kelsey Kushner and Rachel Menitoff contributed to this report.