Baltimore Gas Explosion Death Toll Increases

(AP) — Two people are now confirmed dead following a natural gas explosion that destroyed three row houses in Baltimore and sent seven people to the hospital, authorities said.  

Baltimore Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams said at a 9 a.m. news conference that a man was pulled from the debris shortly before 1 a.m. A woman had been pronounced dead at the scene shortly after Monday morning’s explosion. Seven others were hospitalized, five in critical condition, Adams said. The conditions of the other two were still being determined, she said. 

More than 200 people in the neighborhood were affected by the blast, and about 30 have utilized temporary shelter since the explosion, she said.  

The natural gas explosion Monday morning leveled three row houses and ripped open a fourth, trapping people in the debris and scattering shards of glass and other rubble over the northwest Baltimore neighborhood of Reisterstown Station. Dozens of firefighters converged on the scene to free the injured.  

“It’s a disaster. It’s a mess. It’s unbelievable,” said Diane Glover, who lives across the street. Her windows where shattered and her front door was blown open. “I’m still shaken up,” she said hours later. 

The exact cause remains unknown, and the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. appealed for patience as they investigate. No gas odors were reported before the explosion, and BGE did not receive any recent gas odor calls from the block of homes that were damaged, the utility said in a statement late Monday.  

BGE also said it last inspected the area’s gas mains and services in June and July of 2019 and no leaks were found. 

The utility statement said it’s “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.”  

The Baltimore Sun reported last year that dangerous gas leaks have become much more frequent, with nearly two dozen discovered each day on average, according to the utility’s reports to federal authorities. BGE has said it has thousands of miles of obsolete pipes that need to be replaced, an effort that would cost nearly $1 billion and take two decades, the newspaper said. 

Glover, 56, and her 77-year-old father, Moses Glover, were at home when the massive explosion shook their house, knocking over a fan and some of her DVDs. “It sounded like a bomb went off,” she said. 

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