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Vigils Remember Baltimore Gas Explosion Victims One Week After Deadly Blast

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Community members turned out for two vigils Monday night in memory of the two victims of the deadly Baltimore gas explosion.

People visited the site of the explosion on Labyrinth Road to lay candles, flowers and notes near where 20-year-old Joseph Graham and 61-year-old Lonnie Herriott died one week prior.

Seven other people were injured and nearly 200 homes were damaged in the blast.

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The first vigil began at 7 p.m. at the Empowerment Temple in northwest Baltimore. Members of both families were in attendance as well as community leaders who spoke.

"Our hope and our prayer is that this expression of love is another tacit opportunity for strength for them," Pastor G.J. Barnes with the Empowerment Temple said.

The vigil was held in a drive-through format to allow for social distancing.

Graham's mother Chala also spoke.

"It's just so amazing how you've touched so many people," she said.

His aunt, Christi Levy, reached out to the Herriott family, whose lives were also permanently changed.

"We understand that this is not just a loss that our family took, but it is a loss that another family has taken and that there's other families in need as well," she said.

Empowerment Temple is collecting donations for both victims' funerals.

A second vigil put on by CASA Baltimore began at 7:30 p.m. next to the Applebee's off Reisterstown Road near the scene of the blast, offering reflections in English and Spanish and a final prayer next to the epicenter of the blast.

One week later, cleanup efforts continue in the area. A fourth home that was damaged by the explosion was torn down on Monday.

Lydia Walter-Rodriguez, CASA's director, said more than 30 of its members have been displaced and traumatized by the explosion. The group has been supporting the American Red Cross with interpretation and direct services connecting community members with resources.

Monday night's vigil provided a space for healing, Walter-Rodriguez said.

"There has been so much unifying efforts that have taken place by so many in the community, but neighbors on Labyrinth Street have really supported each other through this tragedy and they're coming together to really heal in a safe space as they walk over to remember the lives of their neighbors that they've lost," she said.

Graham's funeral will reportedly be Wednesday; Harris' is still being planned.

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