‘Major Gas Explosion’ Kills 2, Injures 7 in Baltimore
A "major" natural gas explosion killed two people and seriously injured at least seven in Baltimore, Maryland Monday morning.
The blast destroyed three row homes in the northwestern Baltimore neighborhood of Reisterstown Station and ripped open a fourth, The Associated Press reported. One woman and one man were killed, city fire officials said, according to WJZ. Rescue crews and dogs worked to pull others from the rubble.
"I've never seen anything like that and I've lived in Baltimore City all my life," neighbor Dean Jones told WBAL. "It's almost like somebody just took a bomb out the side and dropped it on the three houses. It's completely leveled."
Here some images of today's fatal explosion in northwest Baltimore, 4200 block of Labyrinth Rd. We are assisting… https://t.co/0S8IkGkIbh— Baltimore County Fire Department (@Baltimore County Fire Department)1597078266.0
The blast occurred just before 10 a.m. Monday. Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams told The New York Times it was a "major gas explosion." She said Monday afternoon that rescue crews would continue to work overnight digging through the rubble if needed.
As FFs combed through the night, the body of an adult male was located just before 1am. #BCFD @BaltimoreOEM remain… https://t.co/g6lj1DMKq9— Baltimore Fire (@Baltimore Fire)1597152279.0
The cause of the explosion is currently unknown. Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), the country's oldest gas company, said it was investigating the incident, according to The New York Times.
The company said in a statement Monday that there were no gas readings or gas leaks found in the buildings or on the road where the explosion took place. There were also no reports of gas smells from the area before the incident. However, people on the ground told WJZ they smelled gas after the blast.
"BGE is committed to fully understanding the cause of this incident and will inspect all BGE equipment once rescue efforts are complete," the company wrote in the statement.
Aerial images of the reported explosion in Baltimore. https://t.co/GK0dpY9pMR https://t.co/vOR5gIQCT7— ABC 7 News - WJLA (@ABC 7 News - WJLA)1597070104.0
BGE is currently working to replace thousands of miles of aging gas pipelines, according to a Baltimore Sun story reported by The New York Times. The number of leaks in the city has increased by 75 percent from 2009 to 2016, but the replacement process could take two decades.
"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," the Maryland Public Service Commission wrote when it approved the renovations in 2018, as The Associated Press reported.
The gas infrastructure in the area where the explosion hit was installed in the early 1960s, BGE said. But when the area was last inspected in June and July of 2019, no leaks were detected.
Climate campaigner and 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrote that the explosion was another argument for retiring gas heating altogether.
"Now that we have cheap, effective air source heat pumps, it's time for public policy to help everyone finance them, beginning with the poorest Americans. It is utterly unnecessary to have a tube of flammable gas running into your house," he tweeted.
Now that we have cheap, effective air source heat pumps, it's time for public policy to help everyone finance them,… https://t.co/ciJI3zeGHg— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1597081942.0
Monday's tragedy comes a little less than a year after another gas explosion destroyed part of an office complex in Columbia, Maryland. Luckily, no one was injured in that blast, according to The Associated Press.
- Fatal Natural Gas Explosion Rocks Durham, NC - EcoWatch ›
- Gas Explosion Rips Through Maryland Office & Shopping Complex ... ›
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
- Bond Fire South of LA Forces 25,000 to Flee - EcoWatch ›
- 'Explosive' Southern California Lake Fire Spreads to 10,000 Acres ... ›
- 10 Wildfires Ignite Around Los Angeles in Unseasonable Wind and ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
"Prevention is the cure for child/teen cancer." This is the welcoming statement on a website called 'TheReasonsWhy.Us', where families affected by childhood cancers can sign up for a landmark new study into the potential environmental causes.
Nearly 1.6 million people in the southern part of Madagascar have faced food insecurity since 2016, experiencing one drought after another, the United Nations World Food Program reported.
- Half a Degree of Warming Makes a Big Difference to Global Food ... ›
- UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Global Hunger Is Increasing, New UN Report Finds - EcoWatch ›
- Construction Begins on Keystone XL Pipeline in Montana - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, Groups Vow 'The Fight Is ... ›
- Keystone XL Pipeline Construction to Forge Ahead During ... ›
By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.