An allegedly intoxicated man allegedly drove into two homes on East MacPhail Road in Bel Air Wednesday night, hit a propane gas line that started a fire at one house and then backed his pickup truck into the other and knocked part of it off of its foundation, according to police.
The driver, later identified as Michael Lee Smith, 54, of the 1000 block of Cedar Lane in Bel Air, then allegedly left the scene and was arrested a short time later near his home.
At about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, Harford County Sheriff's deputies were sent to the 1000 block of East MacPhail Road, where a vehicle, later identified as a 2001 blue Chevy Silverado, drove off the road and hit a home and propane gas line, starting a fire, according to a press release from the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
Firefighters told deputies the vehicle hit the corner of a home where the electric and gas utilities enter, and in addition to hitting the electrical service meter, the pickup also hit and severed the propane line, causing it to rupture, according to the release.
As the electrical equipment arced, propane gas was ignited, setting fire to the house. The fire spread up the side of the home and damaged its siding. A neighbor with a fire extinguisher was able to put the fire out, according to the release.
When they arrived, firefighters immediately shut off the gas and waited for BGE to arrive to cut electric power. Once that was done, the remaining fire was put out. Fire crews didn't find any evidence that the flames extended into the house, Rich Gardiner, of the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association, wrote on the group's Facebook page.
After he allegedly hit the first house, the driver backed up and into a second house, knocking part of it off of its foundation, according to the release. The driver then allegedly drove his truck into the back yards of the two homes and up through their front yards before leaving the area east on East MacPhail Road.
Deputies broadcast an alert for the vehicle – a blue pickup truck.
A short time later, a sheriff's deputy on patrol near Routes 543 and 136 saw the pickup truck pass him. The deputy stopped the car and arrested Smith, charging him with driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of marijuana and leaving the scene of an accident. A court date on the drug charges is scheduled for June 17. No date has been set on the traffic charges.
Smith was taken to the Harford County Detention Center, where he was released on his own recognizance.
Both homes were occupied at the time of the incident, but there were no injuries, Gardiner said. A Harford County building inspector was called to the scene to evaluate the structural integrity of each home. Both families were permitted to reoccupy their homes for the night, but all power and utilities were shut off as a safety precaution.