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‘I should not have been able to walk away’: Northwest Baltimore woman recounts being rescued by neighbors after gas explosion

Anita Moore is hugged by Lisa Brown who rushed to the scene of the gas explosion that killed two people.

In an instant, Anita Moore was no longer working from home in her upstairs bedroom. She was trapped under the wreckage of her house — pinned in the dark under several feet of bricks, plywood and other debris, and yelling herself hoarse for help.

The 55-year-old customer service representative said she was grateful to the neighbors who found her and dug her out from the smoking ruins of a deadly gas explosion in Northwest Baltimore’s Reisterstown Station neighborhood Monday morning. The blast leveled three houses, killing two and injuring seven others.

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“I was completely covered. All I could see was the bricks and everything laying on top of me. ... I should not have been able to walk away from that. They got me out,” Moore said. “My family members — they’re going through it, but they’re alive. I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful to everyone.”

The cause of the explosion is under investigation. It killed 20-year-old Morgan State University student Joseph Graham and 61-year-old Lonnie Herriott. Of the seven survivors, a 34-year-old man remains in critical condition and two men, ages 20 and 65, are stable. The rest have been discharged from the hospital.

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“I was completely covered. All I could see was the bricks and everything laying on top of me. ... I should not have been able to walk away from that. They got me out,” Anita Moore said.
“I was completely covered. All I could see was the bricks and everything laying on top of me. ... I should not have been able to walk away from that. They got me out,” Anita Moore said. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Moore, who grew up in Northwest Baltimore, had been living with her family at one of the three now-demolished row houses for more than a year, she said.

On Monday, Moore had been on a routine customer service call, answering a question about how to fill out a health insurance application, when she smelled gas. A moment later, an explosion brought the house down.

“All I heard was a loud boom,” she said. “I’m really not sure what happened after that. Everything else was a daze.”

Buried and unable to move, Moore yelled to her family members — and then to her neighbors, when she heard them begin calling out for survivors. She credited Dean Jones and Antoinetta Parrish for pulling her out.

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When Moore’s voice gave out, she said, Parrish’s never stopped.

“At one point, I couldn’t yell anymore,” Moore said. “She kept saying, ‘She’s here! She’s here!’ That’s my angel. It was like she was whispering in my ear.”

Moore couldn’t fully comprehend what happened until she was pulled out from under what was left of the house.

“I sat down and realized I wasn’t in the upstairs bedroom,” she said. “I was actually in the backyard.”

She heaped praise on the neighbors who helped pull her to safety.

“My neighborhood is amazing. Running from three blocks away, down the street, up the street to give assistance?” Moore said. “My neighbors are amazing. I’m very grateful to everyone.”

One of her co-workers, Carol Sample, noticed via their shared phone system that Moore’s line had been idle for nearly an hour, said Lisa Brown, their team lead, who has worked with Moore for six years.

Angelo White reacts to seeing the damage after a gas explosion destroyed his former home.

“Miss Anita ain’t been on a call for like 50 minutes,” Brown remembered Sample telling her. “It looks like she’s waiting for a call to come through.”

Then, Brown saw coverage of the explosion on the news and worried for the worst.

“I called my supervisor and said, ‘I’m leaving out. I’m going to find Anita,‘” she said.

Brown said she and another co-worker, Tammy Smith, had rushed to the scene.

“Thank God, we found her,” Brown said.

Brown said she escorted Moore to her own house nearby and got her a meal, water and a shower before taking her to the hospital to have her minor injuries checked out Monday night.

Moore has been staying with friends and family members, who she said have rallied around her and others who were hurt in the blast.

“I have amazing friends and family,” she said. “My neighbors are my family.”

Baltimore Sun photographer Lloyd Fox contributed to this article.

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