Baltimore City mourns the loss of a child who was killed while walking home from school. Apparently, as the child, who has not yet been publicly identified, was walking in front of the house at the time of an apparent gas explosion, which set the house ablaze as it threw debris and rubble through the front walls and into the street.
Three other people were located inside of the house, located on North Lakewood avenue in East Baltimore, including two adults and another child that was outside were taken to area hospitals for serious but non-life threatening injuries. The house was destroyed with two floors and a wall collapsed.
Baltimore City fire crews were combing the rubble after the blaze had been put out, searching for other victims. As they searched, they found the body of a child who did not live in the residence but was close to the home when the explosion occurred. The second child who had been outside the house, ran to the William Paca Elementary School after the incident, but was found and taken to the hospital for treatment.
The story is still unfolding, and details about the victims have been withheld pending notification of family.
Officials were working to determine the actual cause of the fire on Wednesday night. They still have not confirmed that there was in fact an explosion. Baltimore Gas and Electric crews were also sent to the scene to assist with the investigation.
Other residents in the McElderry Park neighborhood, which is located about 12 blocks from the Johns Hopkins Hospital, reported that they had heard a loud boom. Another witness said that he saw two children outside the house as the wall collapsed. Many of those residents ran to the scene of the fire to try to assist. Firfighters worked for hours extinguishing the flames and then searching for anyone else who may have been inside the dwelling.
One woman, who did not give her name wept on the street while the firefighters searched the rubble, fearing that her grandson was one of the victims. She said that he walked down Jefferson Street and past the house on Lakewood when he came home from school every day. She said that he had not come home yet.
Another woman who was watching the search wondered that what might have happened had she and her three daughters been closer to the house when the explosion happened. Her children go to school at William Paca Elementary, which releases children for the day at 2:40 p.m. “I was taking my girls home from school and we walked right past it,” said Mary Shafner, 53.
She said that had gotten a couple of hundred feet past the house, on Jefferson Street when she heard the loud boom. She knew that there had been other children following them, and had looked back. It was at that time that the side wall collapsed.
Shafner noted that she no longer saw the other children she had seen and it was at that time that the screaming started. People were yelling “Get the kids,” she said. “Neighbors came out of their houses and started digging the rubble.” Another neighbor who had been describing the scene said that the kitchen “flew” into the street.
“It’s a shame. I can’t imagine their mother. I can’t even imagine that.” Shafner said of the young victims. “It just happened so fast.”
Firefighters had been called to the scene at about 3:00 p.m. The deceased child’s body was found at about 4:30 p.m. They searched for additional victims for several hours but found no one else.