Neighbors Help Neighbors As Crews Continue To Dig Through Rubble In Baltimore Gas Explosion
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the aftermath of the explosion that shook a northwest Baltimore neighborhood Monday morning, neighbors are stepping up to look out for one another.
Two people were killed and seven others were injured in the explosion along Labyrinth Road at Reisterstown Road and Brookhill Road just before 10 a.m.
City resident Vernon told WJZ neighbors have been out and about all morning helping neighbors.
He lives a few streets over and said he saw debris everywhere.
"It felt like somebody hit your house with a car," he said.
As he approached the area, he saw everybody running to help.
"People with no shoes on no shirts on just trying to dig and help, even the police who was first here on the scene, they just dug in and started helping the neighbors in the area," Vernon said.
He said there were dozens of people around, but only about five or six people who were actually trying to help, referencing Dean Jones, who lives up at the corner.
"He was one of the main guys, no socks on, just ran down here to help," Vernon said.
Jones, who lives up the street nearby, said he heard the explosion and took off.
"I had no shoes, somebody had to bring me my shoes. I took off running down the street, neighbors were looking at me like I was kind of crazy like 'What's going on?' and 'Where is it, where is it?' So once I got to the alley, I could see the smoke and I just took off and a couple other neighbors joined with me," Jones said. "I was just like, 'Let's just see if there's anybody in there,' and we started calling out 'Is anybody in there? Is anybody in there?' And I could hear a voice just like 'Help, help,' so we just started digging in moving bricks. I mean everything, all kinds of debris, like parts of a fence like, we weren't even thinking, you could hear gas in the background it was crazy."
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City Councilman Isaac Schleifer said he pulled up at around the same time emergency personnel arrived, and neighbors were already there helping out.
"You had neighbors helping out neighbors, you had people who had debris on them, people who were covered in blood, and so, as more and more emergency personnel pulled up, that's when you had a lot more firefighters on the scene, checking through the rubble, and pulling out people, and they've been doing just an incredible job," he said.
He said the entire block has structural damage, windows were blown out, and people had been hit by debris even just sitting in their living room.
"We're a resilient community, this is the community I grew up in, I've spent my entire life here, and so this is really a great neighborhood you find that neighbors really look after neighbors, and so we really all just need to continue to do what we've always done which is to come together in a time like this, to provide resources and assistance," he said. "So you see neighbors already going and giving out waters, bringing food for emergency personnel,"
He said Monday's focus is to make sure windows get boarded up and they can clean up the scene to start the recovery process.
Another woman said when they arrived at the scene, they could hear hissing that sounded like a gas leak. Despite that, people rushed into the rubble to see if they could help people trapped.
Albert, another neighbor, said he thought it was a family member's home when he first heard it, running out to see what was going on. He then realized it wasn't his family but saw that the three houses had collapsed.
"I know I didn't have on the proper footgear but of course, as anyone should do, the first thing I did was jump into action to try to save her. Went and threw cinderblocks and debris to the side to try to get to her. But, it was so much debris, cinder blocks, rubble all that to try to get to her," he said.
People have been coming to the staging area to donate food and water, WJZ's Rachel Menitoff tweeted Monday afternoon.
James Price also showed up to help how he could. He donated a number of items to a collection for those impacted.
"First and foremost, that's just the way my mother raised (me). She always said if you can't help someone then don't hinder them," he said.
Will Hanna, the CEO of the New Park Heights CDC, thanked the community for its support. His organization is among those collecting items for the victims.
"God showed up and said, 'You know what? This isn't your fight.' This is what He wanted His people to do. This all came from the community."
WJZ reporters Paul Gessler, Annie Rose Ramos, Ava-joye Burnett, Kelsey Kushner and Rachel Menitoff contributed to this report.
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