Shopping Center 'Probably Totaled' by Explosion

A Maryland shopping center suffers crippling blast
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
Shopping Center 'Probably Totaled' by Explosion
A Howard County emergency responder looks on at the damage caused by a gas explosion at the Lakeside Office Park in Columbia, Md., Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. The shopping center was evacuated. The explosion caused a power outage in the area.   (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

At around 7am, a fire alarm rang at a Maryland shopping center. An hour later, half the building blew up. Luckily a lot happened in between, with firefighters identifying a gas leak and evacuating the Columbia building and surrounding area, CNN reports. The blast could be heard for miles, but no injuries were reported. Among scary details, first responders heard hissing sounds and saw the parking lot bulge from gas buildup below, per the Baltimore Sun. "The parking lot was actually raising," says building owner Roger Holland. A fire official says the center is "probably totaled."

The building's 40,000 feet of retail and office space is fully occupied, but roughly half of it—home to Social Security offices—appeared undamaged. The rest contains tenants like a nail salon, coffee shop, pizzeria, Indian grocery store, and a sushi restaurant. "Fortunately it was 7:30 on a Sunday," says Bill Harrison, the building's leasing agent. "Not 7:30 on a Monday." The blast also caused an extensive power outage in the area. And it gave pause to the owner of a nail salon that is no more: "I spent so much money to bring it up," Nayna Dave tells WTOP, saying it took nearly three years to get the business started. "...This can be built again but life cannot." (More explosion stories.)

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