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BGE is sued over gas explosion that killed 8-year-old boy

The family of a boy killed after a natural gas explosion has sued Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., alleging that it ignored its failing pipes that leaked the gas and triggered the explosion.

Troy Douglas, 8, was killed in February as he was walking home from William Paca Elementary School. A gas explosion inside an end-unit rowhouse blew out about three-quarters of its side wall, sending bricks and debris into the street and triggering a large fire. The boy's body was found crushed underneath a section of the wall, city Fire Department investigators wrote in a report.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleges that BGE did not maintain its deteriorating pipes in the East Baltimore neighborhood. The plaintiffs contend that cold weather caused leaking natural gas to pool underneath the street and in the basement of 447 N. Lakewood Ave. instead of evaporating. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Fire Department investigators determined that the explosion was the result of natural gas coming in contact with an ignition source, likely the home's furnace or a water heater in the basement. The Fire Department did not determine the source of the gas leak.

Aaron Koos, a BGE spokesman, extended condolences but said the company could not comment on the lawsuit.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we are committed to understanding the full dynamics of the event," Koos said. "As always, we ask customers to report any natural gas issues or concerns immediately and we will respond promptly."

Joseph Williams, a Towson attorney representing Troy's family, said the boy's relatives are suing "to find the truth, to find exactly what happened." BGE is the only named defendant.

Troy's mother, Shanika Brown, declined to comment Saturday on the lawsuit.

Three others — two adults who were in the house and another child outside when the fire started — were taken to hospitals with serious injuries after the explosion.

cwells@baltsun.com

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