Business is back to usual at the Harford Mall in Bel Air after an explosion in the mall's electrical room Tuesday afternoon forced the closing of some shops.
The mall was evacuated and then closed shortly after the explosion at about 5:30 p.m., said Edward Hopkins, publicinformation officer for the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Co.
Firefighters were called to the mall at about 5:15 p.m. to investigate the odor of smoke in the Carpet Fair store, Hopkins said.
While firefighters were at the scene, switch-gear equipment in the mall's electric meter room exploded, filling the room with fire and heavysmoke, Hopkins said.
There were no injuries. Brown said most of the damage occurred outside the mall building. Hopkins added that two stores, Carpet Fair and the Hair Cuttery, had minor water and smoke damage.
The county Hazardous Materials Response Team and more than 50 firefighters from the Bel Air, Abingdon, Joppa-Magnolia, Fallstonand Level volunteer companies responded to the scene, Hopkins said.
82% NINTH-GRADERS PASS
Almost 82 percent of Harford public school ninth-graders who took the Maryland Citizenship Skills test in February passed on their first try, a school official told the Harford Board of Education on Monday.
Twenty Harford public school seniors didn't pass the test. They, along with the nearly 20 percent of ninth-graders who didn't pass, must take the test until they pass it to graduate.
The 81.6 percent of seniors who passed the test is about 1 percent more than the number who passed on the first try last year, Carolyn Wood, the state Board of Education's supervisor of research, testing and evaluation, told the county school board last week.
Just as last year, Harford's percentage of ninth-graders with passing scores surpassed the state average, this year at 73.2 percent, she said.
The test, one of three that students must pass to receive a high school diploma, measures the knowledge of students in three categories: constitutional government; principles, rights and re
sponsibilities; and politics and political behavior.
The test is administeredeach year to ninth-graders, and to 10th- and 11th-graders who haven't yet passed, as part of the statewide Project Basic program requirements.
This year, 2,006 ninth-graders took the test. Those who didn't pass will receive extra instruction and be given the test again onApril 24, Wood said.
MAN CONVICTED IN RAPE
An Aberdeen man on Tuesday was convicted of raping a pregnant 19-year-old Havre de Grace woman on May 16.
Richard L. Wallace, 21, could be sentenced to life in prison. He was convicted in Harford Circuit Court of first-degree rape, second-degree rape, third-degree sexual offense, assault with intent to rape, assault and battery, assault and false imprisonment.
A co-defendant, Christopher U. Eley, 21, of Havre de Grace, was convicted of the same charges at a trial in March.
The woman, who wasabout two months pregnant when attacked, told police that Wallace and Eley came to her home, in the 1600 block of Battery Drive, to drinkbeer.
Wallace and Eley refused to leave and raped her, the woman told police.