COLUMBIA, Md. — As the sun rose in Columbia on Thursday, neighbors got their first full glimpse at the extensive damage from Wednesday night’s explosion.
The townhouse where the explosion occurred on Sleepy Horse Lane is completely gone, destroyed down to the base. To the right, another townhouse has a roof now laid on the front lawn.
Nearby, other roofs nearby are ripped or caved in. Debris remains on the scene. Siding is torn off and on the ground. Garage doors are bent and broken.
“I’ve heard many people say it looks like a war zone. I would concur with that,” said Laura Grebe, who lives 100 feet from the blast site. “How we didn’t have people walking their dogs or children or people not coming home from work at that time, I’m amazed.”
Grebe was watching television when “a violent blast” occurred. She was on the first floor and saw one of the homes on fire. Grebe immediately called 911. An ambulance and fire trucks arrived quickly, she said.
“It would have been a lot worse had they not gotten here so quickly,” Grebe said.
Baltimore Gas and Electric trucks remained on the scene Thursday. Witnesses say a BGE worker was at the home responding to calls about a gas leak at the time.
“The BGE repairman got a key from us because the person living in the house that exploded wasn’t home,” said Lew Kaiser, who was breaking Yom Kippur fast with family next door. “He went in, pretty quickly came back out and asked us to evacuate. We ran out and as soon as we got out on the lawn, the house exploded and the fire erupted.”
Kaiser believes the BGE worker was attempting to re-enter the home when it exploded, sending him flying across the parking lot onto the lawn.
Howard County Fire and Rescue says he was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. Another person suffered cuts and smoke inhalation and was taken to Howard County Hospital.
Several cars were also damaged or destroyed. Tow trucks removed a Jeep and a Volkswagen that were not operable anymore.
Kaiser owns a Subaru that was still operable, even though it was covered in debris and dents. The passenger side mirror covering was incinerated in the fire.
Kaiser planned to take the car to a local auto shop to get estimates for his insurance company.
“We’re just so lucky that no one was killed in the blast,” Grebe said.