Explosion rocks Hampden street

5 people injured

house destroyed, two damaged

all 3 condemned

November 07, 2007|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Sun reporter

Five people were injured, and three rowhouses were condemned by city building inspectors after an explosion yesterday afternoon rocked a quiet street in Hampden.

The Fire Department is investigating the cause of the blast, but at the scene, there was speculation that it was caused by a malfunctioning propane gas tank in the basement of 3427 Hickory Ave.

Reported at 3:18 p.m., the explosion destroyed 3427 Hickory Ave. and seriously damaged the interiors and walls of two other houses - one on either side.

Property was strewed about the scene, and much of what had been the front of 3427 lay in the small front yard and on the pavement. Building inspectors placed "Condemned" notices on the three houses.

The blast blew down a wooden fence in the rear of the house where the explosion originated.

A man, 48, and at least three children were in the house when the explosion occurred. At least one child was believed to have been in one of the adjacent homes.

The man suffered burns and injuries and was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a Fire Department official said. His condition was not available.

Four children were injured; three of whom were taken to Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and the fourth to Sinai Hospital, the official said.

Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said there was no fire.

Firefighters were on the scene in less than five minutes and assisted the injured from the rubble.

The tree-lined street with neat rowhouses was choked with fire engines and ambulances, and Northern District police officers detoured heavy traffic from the scene as the curious stopped and observed the scene.

Larry Bledsoe, 56, of 3425 Hickory Ave. was working at a restaurant in Oregon Ridge in Baltimore County, when his sister-in-law, Elva Bledsoe, called and told him about the explosion, and that his home was seriously damaged.

"That's what is left of my house," he said, pointing to his home of several years.

He said he would stay at his mother's home on Kentucky Avenue in Northeast Baltimore for a while.

He said his sister-in-law, who also lives on Hickory, was in a nearby home when "she felt the blast and called me," Bledsoe said. "She's very upset."

Others also heard the explosion from blocks away, some saying it sounded like a bomb.

Firefighters were on the scene hours after the explosion.

Cartwright said the city Department of Emergency Management would assist those displaced by the explosion.

The Red Cross sent a team of volunteers to the explosion site and is helping a family in an adjacent dwelling with food, clothing and shelter, said Linnea Anderson, public affairs officer for the Red Cross.

Sun reporter Liz F. Kay contributed to this article.

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