Two people have died while seven others have been severely injured from a gas explosion that leveled three rowhouses in northwest Baltimore on Monday, 10 August. The blast took place around ten in the morning trapping many people under a pile of bricks, drywall, and lumber.
Videos from the scene of the explosion show its magnitude with rubble and debris from the rowhouses strewn across the streets in front of and behind the homes. A fourth home was severely damaged but was still standing.
The US Fire Department had its fighters comb through the rubble to find bodies and help people. Rescue crews were struggling against hot and humid weather. The Maryland Transit Administration sent three buses to the site of the explosion for displaced residents and rescue crews to sit in air-conditioning.
“It felt like a bomb,” said Barry Leventhal, owner of MidAtlantic Store Fixtures, which is near the site of the explosion.
He and his staff thought a plane had crashed onto the roof of the warehouse, he said, adding that his building’s concrete walls were cracked by the blast. “Everyone scattered, they didn’t know what the hell happened,” he said.
Blair Adams, spokesperson of the US Fire Department said that rescue efforts continued till the afternoon of 10 August with training dogs assisting the search.
Baltimore Gas and Electric- the country’s oldest gas company has said in a statement that an investigation into the matter will be conducted to determine exactly how the explosion was touched off. The investigation will include inspection of gas mains and service piping leading to properties and gas meters, as well as nearby appliances.
The utility company has been working to replace thousands of miles of aging gas pipes. The effort to replace the pipes, some from the 1950s and 1960s, will take at least two decades, The Baltimore Sun reported in September. The number of leaks increased by 75% from 2009 to 2016, the Sun reported.