Gas explosion levels 3 Baltimore homes; 1 dead, 4 rescued

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BALTIMORE (WJW/AP) — A natural gas explosion completely destroyed three row houses in Baltimore on Monday, killing one person and injuring several others, the Baltimore Fire Department said. Several people were trapped; four were rescued.

Firefighters converged on the disaster scene, where the homes have been reduced to piles of rubble and pieces of debris over a wide area.

The fire department tweeted that two of the homes’ occupants were taken to hospitals in serious condition, while a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The firefighters’ union tweeted that special rescue operation units were searching for other people.

Photos tweeted by the union showed what appeared to be a collapsed building and debris strewn about.

While the exact cause wasn’t immediately clear, 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. The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. 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.

BGE turned off the gas in the immediate area after receiving an “initial call” from the fire department at 9:54 a.m. on Monday, utility spokeswoman Linda Foy said.

“We are on the scene and working closely with the fire department to make the situation safe,” she said, without answering any questions from reporters. “Once the gas is off, we can begin to safely assess the situation, including inspections of BGE equipment.”

Stick with Fox 8 and Fox8.com for more on this developing story.

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