A “major gas explosion” rocked northwest Baltimore, killing at least one person and leaving many trapped and injured, local fire officials said.
The Baltimore Fire Department said in a Facebook post that at least three homes were destroyed in a gas explosion that killed at least one woman. The administration said that four passengers were taken to hospital in critical condition, where work crews worked to save at least one other person.
According to the city’s local fire association, many people, including children, have been trapped and rescued from under the rubble as crews continue to search for more trapped passengers on Monday afternoon.
“This is a big accident,” IAFF Local 734 said in a tweet. The union said more than 200 people were at the site, including officials from Baltimore County Fire, City’s Emergency Management Office and Baltimore Gas and Electric.
Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric, told USA TODAY that work crews got a call from the Baltimore Fire Department just before 10 a.m. and were working to turn off gas to other buildings in the vicinity.
Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams told reporters at the scene that the cause of the explosion was still under investigation.
Pictures from the area showed the rubble of collapsed buildings next to other homes as firefighters sifted through the rubble. A fourth house was partially destroyed, and windows in neighbors’ homes were shattered.
Moses Glover told the Baltimore Sun that the explosion “hit me in bed” in his nearby home. He told the newspaper, “I went downstairs and saw all the facades of the houses across from the street. They were on the ground. I had a picture window in the basement, and the glass is in the chair now.”
Governor Larry Hogan described the blast as “horrific” and said he was monitoring the situation closely.
The Baltimore Sun reported last year that a dangerous gas leak has become more frequent in recent years, with nearly twenty people being discovered every day on average, according to utility reports to federal authorities. BGE is the nation’s oldest gas facility that dates back to 1817, and thousands of miles of aging pipelines are in need of replacement, a job the facilities estimate to cost nearly $ 1 billion and take two decades.