A “major gas explosion” rocked northwest Baltimore on Monday morning, killing at least one person and leaving several others trapped and injured, local fire officials said.
Baltimore City Fire Department said in a Facebook post that at least three homes were destroyed in the gas explosion that killed at least one woman. Four occupants had been transported to the hospital in serious condition as crews worked to rescue at least one other, the department said.
According to the city’s local fire union, multiple people, including children, had been trapped and rescued from the rubble as crews were continuing to search for more trapped occupants Monday afternoon.
“This is a major incident,” the IAFF Local 734 said in a tweet. More than 200 personnel were on scene, including officials with Baltimore County Fire, the city’s emergency management office and Baltimore Gas and Electric, the union said.
Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric, told USA TODAY that crews received a call from Baltimore’s fire department just before 10 a.m. Monday and were working to turn off gas to other buildings in the immediate area.
Blair Adams, a spokeswoman for the fire department, told reporters at the scene that the exact cause of the explosion was still under investigation.
Photos from the area showed the rubble of the collapsed structures next to other row houses as fire officials searched through debris. A fourth home was partly destroyed, and neighbors’ homes had shattered windows, too.
Moses Glover told the Baltimore Sun that the explosion “knocked me across the bed” in his nearby home. “I came downstairs and saw all of the front of the houses across the street, they were on the ground. I had a picture window downstairs, the glass is in the chair now,” he told the newspaper.
Gov. Larry Hogan called the explosion “horrific” and said he was closely monitoring the situation.
The Baltimore Sun reported last year that dangerous gas leaks have become much more frequent in recent years, with nearly two dozen discovered each day on average, according to the utility’s reports to federal authorities. BGE is the nation’s oldest gas utility with origins dating to 1817, and thousands of miles of obsolete pipes need to be replaced, a job the utility estimated would cost nearly $1 billion and take two decades, the newspaper said.