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Six homes damaged in Maryland explosion, two injured

By Amy R. Connolly

COLUMBIA, Md., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- At least six townhouses were destroyed and two people injured in a gas explosion that triggered a three-alarm fire in a Maryland neighborhood Wednesday night.

A Baltimore Gas & Electric worker who was investigating the odor of gas in the neighborhood suffered burns in the fire that engulfed the townhouses located in Columbia, about 30 minutes outside Baltimore. A local resident suffered non-life threatening injuries from smoke inhalation and was in stable condition, rescue workers said.

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Local resident Ira Gershman said he was preparing to break fast with family for Yom Kippur when a relative smelled gas about 7:30 p.m. The family called Baltimore Gas & Electric and an employee came to investigate.

"After two minutes, he said to us, 'Get everybody out of that house,'" said Gershman, who said a neighboring house exploded about two minutes after that.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "It was like a bomb."

At least one person was rescued from the blaze, but most of the homes were not occupied, officials said.

"The blast was heard and felt miles away," Howard County Fire Chief John Butler said.

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Investigators are trying to determine the exact cause of the explosion.

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