Updated on November 28 when the Good Samaritan who rescued two people was identified as marine veteran Terry Bagley.
Three people were burned when a gas line rupture caused a house explosion in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood. When the explosion happened, a marine veteran, 70-year-old Terry Bagley, happened to be walking by the house on 1121 Bayard Street. Bagley rushed inside to rescue a 48-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter. As they tried to evacuate, the house collapsed around them. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found the three burn victims trapped underneath the rubble. All three were transported to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center with critical burn injuries.
Bagley’s son told WJZ News that his father’s behavior is nothing new. He said, “I want the story to be out there that a 70-year-old put his life on the line to save two people.”
Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) released a statement that the utility completed upgrades to the gas main that services Bayard Street in October. Assistant Baltimore City Fire Chief Rodney Jones said a gas line ruptured when the house collapsed. Jones said, “What happened was the house went boom! And the wall came down.” A spokesperson from BGE said that gas services to the block have been cut off until the all-clear is given.
Five houses were damaged by the explosion and at least three families have been displaced. Smoke could be seen as far away as the Martin State Airport in Baltimore County. A neighbor told 11 News that “It was something like a bomb, then a big cloud of smoke came over the top a big cloud of smoke.” Nearby schools, including Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary and Southwest Baltimore Charter, were dismissed early.
An explosion investigation is ongoing. Baltimore Gas and Electric released a statement that investigators are canvassing Bayard street to ensure safe and reliable operations of the gas infrastructure.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Ignores Safety Concerns of Gas Lines in Homes
Just last week, Baltimore Gas and Electric attended a council meeting in Montgomery County to argue against passing a bill that would stop gas lines from being installed in newly constructed buildings. BGE’s Director for Governmental Affairs claimed that the proposed legislation would be “really risky” for Montgomery County’s infrastructure. The next day, a condo building in Gaithersburg exploded, leaving 12 people with burn injuries.
In the past few years, Baltimore’s aging natural gas system has become prone to leaks, raising safety concerns among residents. According to data from Baltimore Gas and Electric, the number of gas leaks increased by 75% from 2009 to 2016. This means that Baltimore residents reported at least two dozen gas leaks per day.
Despite the glaring safety issues, gas explosions keep happening in Baltimore. In August 2020, a gas explosion in northwest Baltimore killed one person and injured three others. The house that exploded received gas service from BGE.
Lack of Adequate Security Highlights Importance of Explosion Investigations
In order to identify the cause and origin of an explosion, it’s important to start an investigation as soon as possible. This is because explosion scenes are exposed to weather elements and may not be secured from trespassers. After the house exploded in Pigtown, the man who owns the house next door reported that BGE and the city of Baltimore failed to secure his property from trespassers.
Jacob Booher was on his way to spend Thanksgiving in Boston with his girlfriend when he learned that his house was condemned from the explosion. He said city officials assured him on Tuesday that his house would be boarded up and secured. When Booher came home on Wednesday, there were no boards on the windows. He was told that security hired by BGE would monitor the site 24/7. Booher returned on Thursday to retrieve his belongings to find that he had been robbed. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of belongings were stolen. Booher told WMAR 2 News, “I feel like I was abandoned by the city they didn’t board up my property
they didn’t secure it things were stolen and this was hard this is a really difficult time.”
Rowhouse Fires and Explosions in Baltimore Happen Far Too Often
The Baltimore Fire Department responds to about 12,000 structure fires each year. Just four months after the Pigtown row house explosion, a row house in West Baltimore burst into flames and killed three children. Their mother is in critical condition as well as another man who firefighters found outside the home. The cause of the West Baltimore row house fire is under investigation. A neighbor told WBAL-TV, “I am heartbroken to learn about the tragic fire that claimed the lives of a family in our community last night.”
Talk to an Experienced Burn Injury Lawyer
Pritzker Hageman is one of the few law firms in the country with experience representing burn injury clients. We have won hundreds of millions of dollars for clients in gas explosion lawsuits. Our explosion lawyers have appeared on CBS News to call for more transparency from gas companies to protect people from dangerous house explosions.