Home security footage has captured the horrifying moment a gas explosion ripped through three Baltimore homes this week killing a 61-year-old woman and a 20-year-old rising sophomore and injuring seven others.
The shock blast completely flattened the three homes in the neighborhood at Labyrinth and Reisterstown Road Monday morning, sparking a desperate search for survivors among the rubble.
Authorities identified the two people killed as 61-year-old Lonnie Herriott who was found dead soon after the explosion and 20-year-old Joseph Graham, whose body was recovered early Tuesday morning.
Seven others were injured including a 34-year-old man who remains in critical condition.
A 20-year-old man and a 65-year-old man are in hospital in stable condition while four others – a 27-year-old woman, 37-year-old woman, 64-year-old man and 93-year-old man – have all now been released from hospital.
The cause of the deadly blast continues to be under investigation after gas provider Baltimore Gas and Electric said Thursday an inspection of its equipment had revealed no flaws or leaks.
Footage has emerged of the exact moment the blast occurred and devastated the local neighborhood as residents were going about their day.
The video, captured on the doorbell camera of a home down the street, shows an incredible explosion sending bricks and debris flying into the air.
The home closest to the camera completely collapses within seconds and a dust cloud more than twice the height of the homes is sent up into the sky.
Rubble rains down on the nearby homes and a cat is seen fleeing the area.
The force of the blast, which blew out windows in more than a dozen nearby properties and was heard several blocks away, is visible as the camera shakes.
The explosion ripped through the community just before 10 a.m. Monday morning, leveling three homes and leaving a fourth with its side ripped off.
Shocked neighbors said they heard children screaming for help from the rubble before the emergency services arrived on the scene and one survivor – a US army veteran – described the incident ‘like Korea.’
Initial reports said five people, including children, were trapped under the flattened homes.
Soon after the blast, Baltimore Fire confirmed the body of a woman was found and that three other people had been taken to hospital in a critical condition.
More than 200 emergency responders combed the scene for survivors throughout the day, finding four other survivors during the intense mission and the body of a man early Tuesday.
Fire officials identified the two victims Wednesday as Herriott and Graham.
Graham, a rising engineering sophomore at Morgan State University, was visiting a friend at one of the homes when the blast tore through the property.
His devastated friends and family have paid tribute to him as a mediator with a big heart and an entrepreneur with plans to see the world, reported the Washington Post.
Graham’s longtime girlfriend Melajah Thomas, 18, told the outlet she was ‘heartbroken’ and said he would ‘forever be carried through me.’
Fears had grown for the student Monday when his desperate family were unable to contact him following the blast.
The young man’s uncle Isaac Graham told the Baltimore Sun Monday night Graham was missing after going to the home for a party the night before.
Hopes of finding the rising sophomore alive were dashed when rescue teams discovered his body around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning and fire officials confirmed teams were now carrying out a recovery – not a rescue – mission.
This came after officials announced the body of a woman – now confirmed as Herriott – had been found around noon Monday.
The identities of the seven people injured have not been released.
Around 30 residents were moved into temporary shelter, amid fears the neighboring properties could also be in danger of collapse, with around 200 people in the surrounding area affected by the explosion.
The exact cause of the deadly explosion is still under investigation.
Fire officials confirmed in the immediate aftermath of the blast it was a gas explosion and BGE officials arrived on the scene, turning off the gas in the nearby area.
But BGE said in a statement Thursday morning its crews had finished inspections and found ‘all of its equipment – gas mains, gas service pipes and gas meters, as well as electric equipment – has been operating safely and was not the cause [of] the natural gas explosion.’
It said investigators are still examining ‘customer-owned gas piping and appliances’ in the area.
The gas system infrastructure in the area dates back to the early 1960s, and BGE asked the Maryland Public Service Commission in 2018 to approve a new infrastructure and a cost recovery mechanism to pay for upgrades needed to close the system’s many leaks.
‘Founded in 1816, BGE is the oldest gas distribution company in the nation. Like many older gas systems, a larger portion of its gas main and services infrastructure consists of cast iron and bare steel – materials that are obsolete and susceptible to failure with age,’ BGE said at the time.
The blast comes after a series of other gas leaks in Maryland in recent years amid ongoing complaints that the infrastructure is in need of repair.
Last year, a gas explosion ripped the front off an office complex in Columbia, housing more than 20 businesses.
The explosion occurred on a Sunday morning, meaning no one was in the building at the time and there were no victims.
This followed a gas main break in 2016 which forced the evacuation of the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse and a similar evacuation at the offices of Under Armour after a gas main break in 2012.