Massive gas explosion wrecks Maryland shopping center, office building

No one was injured in the blast, which occurred in a popular business area early Sunday morning.
Image: An emergency responder looks at the damage from an explosion at the Lakeside Office Park in Columbia, Md., on Aug. 25, 2019.
An emergency responder looks at the damage from an explosion at the Lakeside Office Park in Columbia, Md., on Aug. 25, 2019.Kevin Richardson / The Baltimore Sun via AP

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By Doha Madani

An office and shopping center were partly destroyed in a blast seemingly caused by a gas leak in Columbia, Maryland, early Sunday morning, according to officials.

The explosion occurred at about 8 a.m. ET, just 30 minutes after first responders received a call about a possible gas leak, according to Howard County Fire and Emergency Services.

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The explosion seemed to occur at a building that houses a Social Security office and a dental practice, according to NBC Washington. The businesses are located in the middle of a popular shopping area.

The blast also triggered a power outage in the area, with several nearby businesses losing electricity.

The blast was so powerful it could be heard "in communities many miles away," Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. Ball thanked firefighters on the scene for how they handled the situation.

"As they responded to multiple reports of hissing sounds coming from a large crack in the parking lot of the building, they promptly assessed the situation, worked to ensure the buildings were not occupied and that evacuations were not necessary, and set up a perimeter," Ball said.

No one was hurt in the explosion, according to Ball.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company said in a statement that a crew member was on site working with the fire department the blast occurred.

"BGE crews have turned off gas service and are currently working closely with the fire department," the utility company said on Twitter. "Once it is safe to do so, BGE will investigate the cause of the incident."