911 dispatch calls from October 11, 2020 after an explosion destroyed homes in the 4600 block of Lanier Ave. in Baltimore.
In panicked calls to 911, five different neighbors told dispatchers they heard or felt an explosion before the major fire that injured three adults and two children in Northwest Baltimore last week.
The Baltimore Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the incident, and Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. officials said the utility company’s crews found no natural gas readings or leaks from service pipes leading to the homes that were destroyed.
The Baltimore Sun obtained recordings of the 911 calls through a public-records request to provide additional insight about the incident. On Oct. 11, the night of the incident, fire officials declined to confirm that an explosion had occurred, despite neighbors describing a blast and officials comparing it to the gas explosion that killed two people in August.
A fire department spokeswoman did not respond Friday to a request for an update on the conditions of the injured people.
The Lanier Avenue blast sounded like a plane crash and blew out JoVeen Bird’s kitchen window, she said.
“Oh my god,” she said. “It is a fire. It’s a house on fire. Oh my god. It’s burning through the trees by my house. It’s real close to where my house is. The trees is burning. Let me get myself out of this house.”
In a follow-up phone interview with The Sun, Bird said it “sounded like a war was going on outside.”
“It was a big explosion at first, then a smaller one later,” she said.
Another neighbor, whose name was inaudible, called 911 from the 4600 block of Lanier Ave. and told a dispatcher she heard “a big boom." When she looked outside, the top of the house across the street was “blown up at the top," she said.
“I think it’s on fire," she said. “It shook the whole house."
Another neighbor, who did not give her name to a dispatcher, could be heard hurrying family members out of her house while on the phone with 911.
“The house across the street from me just blew up,” she said. “Y’all, let’s go.”
The dispatcher asks the address of the house where it happened, which the woman says is 4609 Lanier Ave. Then, the woman turns her full attention to the evacuation and stops responding to the dispatcher’s questions.
“Go to my car, y’all! Run!” she can be heard saying. “Girl, come here!”
A man, who said he was calling 911 from the area of Dupont and Greenspring avenues, declined to provide a dispatcher with his name, address or phone number.