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Natural gas buildup from unpermitted HVAC work cause of Baltimore explosion

Last updated: 01-22-2021

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Natural gas buildup from unpermitted HVAC work cause of Baltimore explosion

Good morning, everyone. We're here for a update. I am joined today by Councilman as it gets decipher of the Fifth District. Uh, Fire Chief Niles Ford om, Chief Chief Wireless assistant chief of operations, civilian and deputy commissioner, operations for the Baltimore Police Department. Uh, Sullivan. On the morning of August 10th 2020 we received, ah, multiple reports of a possible explosion and a 42 100 block of labyrinth wrote. I personally received a call from my mom who works at the giant next door about feeling an explosion. When the fire department arrived on the scene, three homes were completely destroyed with reports of people trapped in the rubble. There was also a strong natural gas odor throughout the area. Uh, here we are today, five months later, and it seems like August 10th was just like yesterday. Um, we cannot We'll never forget that day. Uh, I knew something was severely wrong. Just based off the sound of my mother's voice and immediately start to drive in this direction. I remember arriving on Lavrov and witnessing the devastation, the devastation of the lives that we lost the devastation of the homes that would destroy the trauma that was brought to the people and the members of this community, the devastation of not knowing how we could begin to pick up the pieces and recover. But I also remember doing that. Tragedy witnessed the community that banded together, uh, that day and beyond the neighbors who dropped everything, uh, to begin sorting through the still burning debris to rescue those trapped, not knowing if another explosion loomed. The residents across the city who came and donated items and sent prayers to the victims and their families. I remember the bravery and immediate response from our first responders, specifically our firefighters who spent countless. I was searching for victims and clearing debris and clearing the debris. To this day, I am amazed and internally grateful for the work they did and continue to do to support this community. I also have to mention the role that the community played, uh, rather than filming or standing on the sidelines. We saw neighbors in this community step up and work again to save their neighbors who were trapped. And although five months have gone by, we continue to pray for the recovery in this community and will continue to eight and encourage the the healthy healing process after this tragedy on before I turn it over to achieve four, I want us all to hold a moment of silence for the two people that we lost tragically during this explosion. Joseph Graham, who was 20 years old, and Lonnie Herro, who was 61. Thank you. And now I will turn it over. Chief Ford, who will address what happened that day. Chief Fort. Thank you, Mr Mayor. Um, first, I would I would like to echo the mayor's words. I'd like Thio acknowledge the lives that were affected the two individuals who lost their lives in this incident, as well as the seven individuals that were injured and all the families that were affected. I'd also like to speak about the heroes and Xiros within the community and within the Fire Service Organization and other public service organizations that ran to assist with their bare hands, removing rock and mortar to try to get two people to assist them, and a horrific event that happened here in the city of Baltimore on the morning of August 10th 2020. We received multiple reports of a possible explosion in the 4200 block of Elaborate Road. When we arrived on the scene, it was very apparent that some sort of explosion did occur because there were three houses completely destroyed with reports of people trapped. There was also a strong natural gas odor throughout the area. Units immediately began performing search and rescue operations and extinguishing small gas fed fires. This incident, as well as the investigation, was a multi agency effort with support and efforts from our special operations team, ATF, Baltimore police and police. Arson. Baltimore City Housing, Baltimore County Fire Department, Baltimore Gas and Electric, Howard County Fire and Rescue Canine Unit, Pennsylvania Cadaver dogs. The American Red Cross, The state fire marshal's office, the Bpd Crime Lab. After months of investigating, it has been determined that the explosion was the result of a large natural gas buildup. Based on the investigation and evidence, it appears as though a stove was turned on, which provided the ignition source in determining cause. This cause and other investigations with the Baltimore City Fire Department uses a origin and cause perspective, which is to work from the least damaged to the most damaged parts. While investigating, we were able to locate all four gas meters that were associate ID, after which B, J and E was contacted and a request was made. Tow obtain readings from those readings. A spike in natural gas levels were detected between 1 32 o'clock in the morning off August 10th from address 42 32 Labyrinth Road. As first responders and investigators continue removing debris, these the investigation revealed that the natural gas buildup was from 40 to 30 to elaborate throwed from our understanding a contractor working on an H V A C system at 42 32 Labatt Road, which was licensed, which was a license contract. But we have not been able to find any proper permits for any work done at that address. Um, that was that work was done the day before the incident. In fact, this gas explosion took the lives of two people in this community and injured seven others. This explosion also caused the destruction of three homes and severe damage to several others on August 10th, August 10th is a day we will never forget. It is a day that impacted families. It impacted this community. It impacted leadership of this city and it impacted members of this department. It is never our goal to walk away from the scene with lives loss. As members of Baltimore City Fire Department, our goal is to help people and protect this community. During this incident. As an agency, we were able to establish accountability and keep a span of control over the incident while the incident was occurring. Established multiple talk groups in order to have better instant communication established in the incident staging area and establish a staging area for mutual aid. This incident, um, I'm gonna go back to the fact that this was a horrific and instant it is It is never our goal to leave any incidents with people who have perished to that end it. It is a frustrating inch issue for the organization and the members of the organization. I should also point out that Office of Emergency, the organization, all the all the public service organizations stayed on this scene for more than a week to continue work at this incident. Furthermore, the Office of Emergency Management stayed and worked during that time, but they're still receiving calls related to this incident to follow calls related to this incident in order to follow up and assist this community. Thank you, Mr Merrick. Thank you, Chief. Forward. And now we'll take questions. Work here. Sorry about that. Just asking. Where was the work being done on the home? You said that the work was happening the day before. Was it a in the basement? It was the basement of 42. 32. Was that an apartment? It was part of the Roadhouse structure. Okay. Can you tell us what kind of work it was? Repairs to the H V A C. We weren't. We weren't able to receive extensive, particularly particular information. All the repairs that were done. As I said, there was no permit pulled that we were able to locate. Just just wanted to ask a really quick clarifying questions. So you said that they There was a check back work done the day before a big buildup of natural gas. And then someone lit the stove, which set off the explosion. Is that the set of events? As you understand it. Okay. Thank you. Has the city made any contact with the landlord and also in conversations with BG and e Is there any type of settlement or pay out or anything Restitution to those in this area that you can address. Okay. Doing investigation? The the fire investigators and the police department didn't make contact with the land Awards. I can't speak about the BJ. Any questions? Mayor, can you? Any conversations with the genie? So when you think about something like this, the investigation just ended, right? And we also have to understand that, uh, we will do everything in our power to make sure, As as the chief said, oh, am has been working with the families, uh, as anything moving forward. As far as what's going to happen. We'll be made now that we have this decision and we'll be talking to everyone that's involved to make sure What is your office doing specifically? Because if we look around, there are still homes that are continuously boarded up with those windows. What do you have on the ground to help out aside from just what you said? So we've been here since day one. We've never left. I myself has been here multiple times walking up down the street, talking to the neighbors, right. You have to also remember that these air privately owned homes they have insurance. They have to deal with their insurance companies. They have to deal with the structures of the houses. We can give you the reports. I know we gave you guys that before, over the summer time about the structures and whether folks can go back into those structures or not. This is not an immediate thing. Next question. Come on. Yep. We also had another situation that happened months later. Uh, what's going with that investigation? And is it anything similar with with what happened here? Still open and you guys will hear from us once it's complete. Okay. May I have to ask you unrelated question about restrictions here in Baltimore over the weekend? Uh, picture of the aquarium people inside the aquarium. It's been circulating, uh, viewers have been upset. Expressed concern about the capacity of this picture. Uh, three parts to the question. Are you wear the picture? Can you speak to it and your response with somebody who might be concerned that this is allowed But for example, restaurants or not, Thank you. Election. I didn't think that I would get a question about when We're talking about the incident where people died about the aquarium. Just want to start that out for the record. But I am aware of the of the picture. I received the picture this morning, sent it over to our folks. We will be investigating, But again, our decisions are made on public health, period. That's it. And that's the only answer you're ever going to get from me. This is a public health emergency. We will be investigating everything. We know that places have been closed down. When people are violating the order, they will be closed down, no matter who they are. Thank you. Thank you. Very good. What can you guys tell us about the contractor? The name of the contractor? Yeah. I'll get that information to you. Um, also, the report will be released very soon, if Yeah, in fact, if it hasn't already been released. Very man, anything about threats or anything dealing with what's going on? You see, uh, preparing here for Baltimore. Are you hearing anything like that? I'll let the deputy commissioner go, but they were. We are monitoring their continuously monitoring to see what's happening. To see any particular threats here will always be monitoring those things. We know that there has been worried about actions and the Capitals around, but I'll let Deputy Commissioner Sullivan go into more detail. Yeah, we've been in contact with our state, local and federal partners of Regarding, uh, the incidents are regarding the inauguration next week and continue planning and getting the best information we can. Thank you, everybody.


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