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Baltimore County

Fire and explosion in Windsor Mill nail salon sends suspect and multiple Baltimore County first responders to hospital

Multiple first responders and a suspect were injured in a minor explosion and building fire Monday night inside a Windsor Mill nail salon, Baltimore County police and fire officials said.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is accused of starting a fire that produced the explosion in the back of the Libra Nails & Spa location, located in a shopping center at 1700 Rolling Road. No motive has been made public, but fire officials identified him Monday as a former employee.

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Charges against the individual are pending, officials said. He was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Four Baltimore County police officers and two emergency medical services personnel also were taken to local hospitals following the explosion. All except for one police officer have been released, according to news releases from the county agencies.

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On Tuesday morning, the nail salon and four neighboring businesses were closed. Workers could be seen removing an ATM from the store and preparing to board up shattered glass panes, walking over glass remnants strewn on the sidewalk.

Caution tape blocked off the entrance, and some passersby peered into the store, which was dark and had obvious damage.

Jermile “Jay” Cheatham, owner of nearby barber shop DR Dominican, said he heard about the explosion last night from an employee of a neighboring business. His shop was not damaged, but Cheatham said he’d heard that others sustained smoke damage.

“This doesn’t surprise me,” Cheatham said outside of the shopping center Tuesday morning, adding that his business had equipment stolen in a break-in last year.

He said he was thankful others weren’t seriously injured.

Saeed Chano, who works at nearby family-owned Danish Foods, said the business hadn’t had major issues in their 20 years at the shopping center. He described the nail salon as “very busy.”

Officers responded to the shopping center around 9:15 p.m. Monday for a call of a disturbance because a man at the scene would not leave.

While talking to officers, the man became distraught, said Det. John Connor, a police spokesman, on Monday. Officers called for assistance from emergency medical workers, and fire and hazmat units were dispatched at 9:37 p.m., fire officials said in a news release.

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While police and EMTs were inside the business, Connor said, the man ran to the back of the building, and within minutes, a minor explosion went off.

The individual was described as “experiencing emotional distress” by Det. John Connor, a Baltimore County Police spokesman. Police walked back an earlier comment that he was reportedly suicidal.

“His exact intentions are unclear at this time,” Connor said Monday night.

The incident remains under investigation by Baltimore County police and fire agencies, a news release said Tuesday. The scene was processed with assistance from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with an ignitable liquids K9 detection team from the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue.

Someone who answered a phone number for the nail salon Tuesday referred a reporter to the property manager. A man at the shopping center who said he was a property manager declined to comment on Tuesday.

Property records indicate the shopping center is owned by CJN Realty Investments LLC. A representative for the company could not be reached for comment.

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Fire officials said in the release that responding personnel saw smoke coming out of the rear of the nail salon. The fire was extinguished quickly and did not spread to other businesses, they said. It was controlled by about 10:30 p.m.

The blast from the explosion, however, damaged “several” adjacent buildings, the release said.

The fire, stoked by flammable chemicals stored inside the nail salon, such as acetone in nail polish remover, quickly ignited in the one-story building and prompted fire officials to deem the fire a hazmat situation.

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