BALTIMORE (WJZ) — At least 21 people were taken to area hospitals after an explosion at the Baltimore Gas & Electric building in downtown Baltimore Wednesday morning.
Eyewitnesses told WJZ they heard and felt a large explosion just before 8:30 a.m. Then, they saw scaffolding fall from the building in the 100 block of West Fayette Street.
The city’s firefighters union said when crews arrived, they “were met with injured people on the ground, injured window washers clinging to their safety lines 12 stories up, and an active fire on the 16h [sic] floor of a hi-rise building.”
A total of 23 people were rescued from the building; 21 were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Two people refused treatment. Of those injured, nine are critical and one is in serious condition.
None of those who were injured were BGE employees, the company said.
The two contractors who were cleaning the building windows were left clinging to the remaining scaffolding on the Lexington Street side of the building for about 30 minutes. They were later rescued by the fire department’s special operations team, who broke a window on the 10th and 11th floor and pulled the men through.
The building’s roof also partially collapsed; despite that, the building is still structurally sound, BGE said Wednesday evening.
Crews will repair the damage to the roof and windows to prevent further damage from the weather.
#BREAKING: a rescue is underway to help window cleaners stuck on the side of the BGE building. Multiple eyewitnesses say they heard a large explosion moments before the scaffolding fell…more to come @Wjz pic.twitter.com/l0GMk3ks6O
— Annie Rose Ramos (@AnnieRoseNews) December 23, 2020
The incident happened on the 16th floor, according to the city firefighters’ union.
WJZ saw multiple people being brought out of the building on stretchers. Two of the injured were being treated on the ground for burn-related injuries before they were transported to an area hospital.
💥EXPLOSION WITH RESCUE💥
39 W Lexington St 21201#DowntownBaltimore @DowntownBalt@CouncilmanETC#BCFDR1 reports evidence of an explosion on floor 16 with 2 workers trapped in scaffolding. #BCFDSOC on the way to rescue them. #BCFDEMS treating 2 people on the ground with burns. pic.twitter.com/vs7rNGMKCM
— Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 (@BCFDL734) December 23, 2020
Crews still must remove the remaining scaffolding left on the building.
Fire Chief Niles Ford said crews will do this methodically and slowly to make sure the scaffolding is safely removed.
Baltimore City Fire crews rescued 23 people from the downtown BGE building after an explosion erupted including 2 contractors who were working from some outdoor scaffolding. Here’s a closer look at the incredible rescue. Photos courtesy of Bryan McCarty. @wjz pic.twitter.com/mgGLVhFIRq
— Rachel Menitoff (@RachelMenitoff) December 23, 2020
Most of the building was empty due to the upcoming holidays and the pandemic. Firefighters swept the building after the incident to make sure no one else was inside.
WATCH BELOW: Baltimore Officials Give An Update On Explosion At BGE Building
BGE said construction work was underway on the building’s air handling and boiler system and that likely caused the incident. The company added it does not believe the explosion was gas-related.
Explosion Update: A total of 23 victims were rescued from the explosion in the 100blk of W. Fayette St. 21 of the victims were transported to area hospitals & 2 victims declined. #BCFD members continue search the bldg. The cause remains under investigation. pic.twitter.com/STKTnArlS1
— Baltimore Fire (@BaltimoreFire) December 23, 2020
Here’s the full statement from BGE:
“On Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, a construction related incident occurred at BGE’s offices at 2 Center Plaza in downtown Baltimore. The incident appears to be related to construction work that was occurring on the building’s air…