A natural gas leak and explosion occurred just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Lakeside Office Building and shopping center, in the 8800 block of Stanford Boulevard, in Columbia, shaking homes and structures up to several miles away. Earlier Sunday morning, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue personnel responded to reports of a gas leak in the parking lot at the address and made sure the area was evacuated prior to the explosion.
No injuries to civilians or first responders have been reported. Social Security offices, the Krav Maga Maryland-Columbia, Riverside Coffee, Cisco Systems, Pub Dog Pizza and Mango Grove are among the businesses affected.
At a press conference held late Monday morning, Howard County Deputy Fire Chief John Jerome said that, “Throughout the day yesterday, fire crews worked with other agencies to safely control access to the area, prevent injuries and to assess the buildings’ structural integrity in coordination with other agencies. Today we will continue with those efforts and hope to coordinate with building occupants so that they can recover some of their key assets,” adding that the investigation is ongoing.
“I am so grateful that no one was hurt as a result of this incident and I want to personally thank our Police and Fire and Rescue personnel for their speed and bravery in making sure the area was clear of people prior to the explosion,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “I also want to thank BGE, [the Howard County Economic Development Authority], and everyone who is partnering with us to move forward. As a community, we are going to be doing everything we can to help the impacted businesses and respond to this damage with our collective resolve.”