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61-year-old woman identified as victim of Baltimore gas explosion; one survivor remains in critical condition

The gas explosion that killed two people in Northwest Baltimore was caught on a RING.com camera footage on Labyrinth Road. (Video courtesy of Dominique Bass)

The Baltimore Fire Department on Wednesday identified the woman who was killed and released the ages and conditions of the seven survivors of a gas explosion that leveled three homes in Northwest Baltimore on Monday.

Lonnie Herriott, a 61-year-old woman, was found dead in the wreckage just before noon Monday, officials said. Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, crews uncovered the body of Joseph Graham, a 20-year-old whose family said he was a talented writer who attended Morgan State University.

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Family members of Herriott could not be reached Wednesday.

The seven survivors include a 34-year-old man who remains in critical condition, and two men, ages 20 and 65, who are in stable condition, according to the Fire Department.

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Four other survivors — a 93-year-old man, a 64-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman and a 27-year-old woman — all have been discharged from the hospital. None of the survivors’ names were released.

“During this horrific event, the City of Baltimore has come together as one community and shown deliberate and action driven compassion for those impacted by this incident,” Fire Chief Niles R. Ford said in a statement. “The explosion was devastating, and our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased and injured, as well as those that have been displaced from their homes.”

At the site of the Labyrinth Road explosion Wednesday, city contractors used an excavator and dumptrucks to clear the wreckage. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews climbed below the street to isolate the gas service lines of the destroyed homes and inspect the utilities in the neighborhood.

The lines to the houses “are no longer connected to the main,” BGE spokesman Aaron Koos said in a Wednesday afternoon update on the company’s progress at the site.

“The storms that came through slowed things down a bit this afternoon, so I anticipate we won’t put out any update tonight,” he wrote in an email. “But I’m hopeful we can issue an update tomorrow.”

The neighborhood street near Reisterstown Road was mostly unobstructed by mid-morning.

But as many as 200 homes sustained damage, officials said, and a mess of bent doors, punctured mattresses, broken windows, bricks, plywood and air-conditioner units remained where the destroyed houses had stood and in neighboring yards.

The cause of the blast is under investigation. BGE said it found no leaks in the neighborhood’s gas lines, but tracing such leaks can be difficult. The utility’s crews inspected gas mains, service pipes and gas meters, as well as customer-owned appliances and piping in the area.

Electricity has been restored to neighbors’ houses, Koos said, and BGE had been set to wrap up most of its initial work on the scene before the heavy rains moved in Wednesday afternoon.

“We have crews on site to help with restoring gas service to customers along the section of main that was temporarily taken out of service as a safety precaution and inspections,” Koos said in an email.

“For those customers, we’re working with the City, which will inspect the properties for any potential structural damage,” Koos wrote. “BGE will then also do a check of the gas equipment and if everything is cleared, we’ll restore gas service.”

Any damaged gas lines or customer-owned equipment will be flagged for repairs, he added.

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The blast sent a shower of bricks and debris through the area, shattered the windows of houses across the street and displaced 30 people from their homes. Neighbors rescued one woman who was buried under the wreckage after her house collapsed.

All of the people who were inside the homes at the time of the explosion have now been accounted for, said City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, who represents the area and has come to the scene to lend assistance each day.

“Today, we’re working on the cleanup phase,” Schleifer said. “An excavator’s going to be putting all the debris from the house and from the surrounding houses that also have debris, and we’re rolling it out so we can clean up the site today and try to start the rebuilding and the healing process.”

In a tweet, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young warned those affected by the catastrophe to beware of “predatory insurance fraud and contractors targeting residents in distress.” He said his team had learned of “potential instances” occurring in the neighborhood after the explosion.

“Do you think that you or one of your neighbors might be the target of insurance fraud?” said a flyer attached as an image to the mayor’s tweet. “Please contact the Maryland Insurance Administration’s Insurance Fraud Division at 1-800-846-4069.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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