A major gas explosion at around 10 a.m. Monday, August 10, caused three houses to collapse in Baltimore, according to the local fire department.
Preliminary reports and videos came out from Citizen, who were there before firefighters arrived, and Baltimore Fire Rescue confirmed a multiple home explosion at Reisterstown Road and Labrynth Road. Videos and photos show major damage including debris all over the road, smoke, and twisted metal and electrical poles as fire-rescue arrives and people line the streets to see what is happening.
According to the Baltimore Firefighters Union, one woman was found dead and over the course of the day they rescued 5 people who were trapped in the rubble.
Firefighters requested a supply unit respond with extra wood saws, chains and fuel, and a bomb squad arrived on the scene, according to Citizen, but there are no reports of an explosive device and EMS are set up “for treatment and triage for victims with less serious injuries.”
A Woman Was Able To Dig Her Way Out of the Rubble While Fire Crews Work to Find More Survivors
As firefighters worked to find people trapped under the wreckage of the explosion, they reported that a woman was able to dig herself out. They said she was in serious condition and was transported to the hospital. Rescue workers are continuing to try to find people who are still unaccounted for.
A witness, Dean Jones, told Baltimore’s WJZ that he heard the explosion and ran out of the house barefoot toward the explosion and when he got there he could hear a plea for help coming from under the rubble. Jones said:
It was catastrophic. It was like a bomb, like you watch things in other countries where they have like bombings and things like that. 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.
Specialized Equipment & Dogs Were Brought in to Help Find Survivors
After hours of search and rescue efforts, firefighters brought in search dogs and a rarely used John Deere 320D Skid Steer to move the tons of debris that people may be stuck underneath.
By about 3 pm, five hours after the devastating explosion only one death had still be reported but the search for survivors continued according to the Maryland Fire Marshal.
The Firefighter Union also said that a “Critical stress team has been activated to support the mental health of rescuers.”
Baltimore CBS reported that City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer said inspectors were checking homes in the area for damage, which was found as far as five blocks away. Crews were also helping neighbors board up doors and windows that were damaged in the blast, and the Red Cross will help residents whose homes are too damaged to return to right away.
People are also banding together to provide water and food, and clothing and food donations are being collected for those displaced by the explosion.
It’s still unclear how many people can’t go home, Baltimore CBS reported. And it’s still unknown what exactly caused the explosion.
Baltimore Gas and Electric released the following statement, which said in part:
The cause of this morning’s explosion in northwest Baltimore is currently unknown. BGE responded to the scene at the Fire Department’s request to shut off gas and electric service in the area to make the scene safe. BGE has canvassed the area and found no current readings of gas. Once fire rescue is complete, we will begin the process of working with the Fire Department to investigate BGE equipment in the area. These inspections will include the gas mains, service piping leading to properties and gas meters. Customer-owned appliances and piping will also be investigated. Area inspections will encompass homes and gas equipment in a wide area to ensure there is no additional damage. In addition, BGE is reviewing records for this area, including any reported gas odors, recent inspection results and repairs. We are working with the Fire Department to ensure continued safety and to aid in its investigation.