Gas explosion levels part of a building in Maryland shopping center

Posted at 10:15 PM, Aug 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 00:15:18-04

A gas explosion in Maryland destroyed part of a building in shopping center on Sunday morning, local fire departments report, in an incident that affected businesses and residents miles away.

No one was reported injured, but the building is at risk of collapsing, said Stephen Hardesty, battalion chief for Howard County Fire and Rescue, at a news conference.

Around 7 a.m., firefighters and paramedics from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services were dispatched for a fire alarm on Stanford Boulevard in Columbia. As they responded, the assignment was upgraded to a report of a gas leak in the parking lot, a statement from the department read.

Firefighters immediately evacuated the surrounding area and the building. The explosion occurred just before 8 a.m., resulting in significant structural damage to the building, which houses both offices and retail space.

The explosion could be heard for miles, CNN affiliate WTOP reported.

“It was loud! The whole house shook!” Kristin Wright, who lives less than a mile from the explosion,told WTOP.

Officials are also reporting widespread power outages due to the explosion and have closed surrounding roads. About 30 Baltimore Gas and Electric customers were impacted by the outage, WTOP reported.

“I have mobilized our team from the Howard County Economic Development Authority to assist those businesses and workers who may find themselves displaced by this event,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball in a statement. “We will do everything possible to minimize the impact of this explosion.”

The gas has been turned off, and an official investigation into the cause of the explosion is planned.