Around 7 a.m., firefighters and paramedics from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services were dispatched for a fire alarm on Stanford Boulevard in Columbia. As they responded, the assignment was upgraded to a report of a gas leak in the parking lot, a statement from the department read.
Firefighters immediately evacuated the surrounding area and the building. The explosion occurred just before 8 a.m., resulting in significant structural damage to the building, which houses both offices and retail space.
The explosion could be heard for miles, CNN affiliate WTOP reported.
Officials are also reporting widespread power outages due to the explosion and have closed surrounding roads. About 30 Baltimore Gas and Electric customers were impacted by the outage, WTOP reported.
The gas has been turned off, and an official investigation into the cause of the explosion is planned.