Columbia Explosion: 6 Townhouses Destroyed, Damage Estimate $2M
Two people were injured and six townhouses were demolished in a gas explosion, triggering a three-alarm fire in a Maryland neighborhood. The explosion occurred in the 12200 block of Sleepy Horse Lane in Columbia shortly after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Homes were consumed by the fire.
A Baltimore Gas & Electric technician who investigated the nature of the gas in the neighborhood suffered burns, as reported by UPI.com. A local resident suffered non-life threatening injuries due to smoke inhalation, but was in stable condition. Residents were evacuated from the neighborhood but did not need to be transported to the hospital. Six structures were completely destroyed in the incident. Damage to property amounted to an estimate of $2 million.
According to WBAL-TV, Terri Clayman, resident of the house destroyed in the explosion, said she had returned home from Yom Kippur services when she thought she smelled gas. Subsequently, she called BGE. The worker who responded said the source of the gas leak was Clayman’s neighbor’s house. Clayman let the worker in the neighbor’s house as the neighbor wasn’t at home. Upon entering, the worker urged Clayman to leave the house, which soon thereafter exploded.
“I was in the house when it exploded,” Clayman said. “My family had gotten out. And when I came out, it was just explosions and flames and everything. My next door neighbor’s house was on fire and my house was on fire, also.”
Lou Kaiser was also in the house with Clayman when it exploded. “[The BGE technician] went in, very quickly came outside and yelled for us to evacuate, and so we started piling out of Terri’s house. Just as we got on front lawn, the house next door exploded,” Kaiser said. “We thank the BGE guy who told us to evacuate, because had he not done that, we would have still been in the house.”
Neighbors said it was unbelievable that no one was seriously injured despite the severity of the blast. Paul Treffinger, a neighbor whose house was spared by the explosion, said, “If those people would have been in the house [that exploded], there’s is no way they would have survived the explosion, there’s absolutely no way. It’s scary, because it could happen to any of us.” One person was rescued safely.
While the name of the worker was not released by BGE, he was lauded and praised for saving more than a dozen people. BGE spokesman, Justin Mulcahy, said, “[The technician] made a very quick decision to evacuate, and we’re glad he made that decision, because we’re fortunate not to be talking about fatalities or multiple fatalities for that matter.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, BGE spokesman, Aaron Koos, said the company was “supporting the Howard County fire department in their investigation.” Koos urged that the company be contacted right away in case anyone smells natural gas. “Customers should get to a safe place before calling us. If they’re in an area with gas odor, they should leave the area and then call us from a safe location. Any electronic device, like a cellphone, can be an ignition source,” Koos said.