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County Executive Ball Holds Press Conference on Columbia Gas Explosion Recovery

August 26, 2019

Media Contact: 
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412                                                                                           

COLUMBIA, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball held a press conference at the Ascend One Building to discuss the gas leak and explosion that occurred Sunday morning, and to outline recovery efforts for impacted businesses and workers. Ball was joined by representatives from BGE, the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), the Department of Fire & Rescue, and other county agencies. Video of the press conference can be found here. Photos can be found here.

The explosion occurred just before 8:00 a.m. Sunday, August 25, at the Lakeside Office Building and shopping center in the 8800 block of Stanford Boulevard in Columbia. Earlier Sunday morning, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue personnel responded to reports of a gas leak and made sure the area was evacuated prior to the explosion. No injuries to civilians or first responders have been reported. The building will remain closed, with gas and electricity shut off, while investigators determine the cause of the leak and the extent of the damage.

After the explosion, Ball immediately mobilized joint efforts with the HCEDA to assist businesses and workers who may be displaced while the building is closed. Affected businesses are in the process of responding to the HCEDA with their needs, so they can be paired with new, temporary spaces. The Department of Fire & Rescue will begin short, escorted entries into the building today to help business owners retrieve their key assets.

“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, bravery, and professionalism in making sure the area was clear of people prior to the explosion,” said Ball. “I also want to thank BGE, EDA, Office of Workforce Development, and everyone who is partnering with us to aid our recovery effort. 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. Yesterday may have shaken Howard County, but today we stand firm and ready to work together to move forward as a united Howard County.”

“I’d like to take a moment to recognize the high degree of collaboration that has occurred between government agencies and private agencies alike,” said John Jerome, Deputy Fire Chief. “This attitude and culture in Howard County truly puts the citizen first.”

“We are committed to fully understanding the cause of this event and are working closely with investigators,” said Aaron Koos, spokesperson for BGE. “Once again, we thank our emergency responder partners, everyone in Howard County, and County Executive Ball.”

“Longer term, we are assessing the businesses’ needs and for those that can be relocated, we will be finding temporary space for them,” said Larry Twele, Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO. “We are working with the Office of Workforce Development to make sure the [impacted] employees are taken care of as well.”

If you ever suspect a gas leak, please get to a safe location and report it to BGE immediately by calling (877) 778-7798 or by calling 911.