‘Terrifying': Explosion Sparks Fire at Bowie Senior Care Facility, 112 Residents Evacuated

No injuries were reported but some residents were moved to a gymnasium

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An explosion set off a fire in a senior care facility in Bowie, Maryland, early Tuesday, forcing more than 100 residents to evacuate the building. No injuries were reported, officials said.

Chopper4 footage shows signs of a powerful blast, with a portion of the roof collapsed.

The loved ones of residents said they were worried. Relatives gathered outside a Bowie gymnasium hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved ones as they were brought by bus and ambulance.

"I'm extremely nervous and I really would like to know if he's OK,” Shellie Ferguson, the niece of a resident, said.

Ambulance crews from across the state helped move people, with many on stretchers or using wheelchairs.

Officials said their immediate concern is getting residents out of harm’s way and making sure they have food, medicine and somewhere safe to relocate.

A number of people using wheelchairs waited in a nearby gym after the explosion. (Credit: City of Bowie)

The Prince George’s County Fire Department was called to Larkin Chase Center in the 1500 block of Health Center Drive about 3:40 a.m. Firefighters found smoke and fire coming from the kitchen, fire officials said.

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Arthur Johnson, who lives nearby, said he heard the blast. 

“It shook the entire house,” he said. “At first I was like, ‘Was that an explosion? Did a meteor hit somewhere?’ It was just that loud.”

The explosion took out the back wall of the center's kitchen, leaving behind a pile of cinder blocks and bricks.

“The majority of the back wall was blown out. There were some dumpsters near that back wall area that were blown out probably 20 to 30 feet from the building itself,” Deputy Fire Chief Tony Hughes said. “A partial roof collapse as well.”

There was a large presence of first responders. A second fire station and a medical bus from D.C. Fire and EMS responded to help, officials said. The fire was put out, and crews were ventilating the building, officials said about 5:30 a.m.

Residents wearing hospital gowns and masks were seen in wheelchairs, waiting to evacuate. There was concern over the amount of smoke in the building. Someone declined to be taken to a hospital, fire department officials said.

A kitchen explosion set off a fire in a senior living facility in Bowie, Maryland, early Tuesday, forcing residents to evacuate. News4's Megan McGrath reports.

Without power and air conditioning, 112 residents had to be relocated to other facilities in the area.

Pamela McKay’s mother moved into the facility two weeks ago.

“When they said Bowie, I was like, no, not this nursing home,” McKay said. “I was very pleased with this place. The residents seemed so happy."

McKay’s mother wasn’t hurt, but she was afraid of the impact of the evacuation.

“We’ve had some COVID patients. I don’t want her intermingling with them,” McKay said.

“Terrifying. Very much so terrifying. I mean, I got right up and just threw on the first thing I could to get out here,” Ferguson said. “I have been waiting for a report. They sent out a message to us saying that our loved ones is okay, but I'm just waiting to see him.”

"Larkin Chase Center is a skilled nursing facility offering post-hospital, short-term rehabilitation as well as long-term and respite care," the facility's website says.

There’s no word yet on what caused the explosion, and it's unclear when residents will be able to move back in.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks thanked everyone who helped respond to the emergency.

“This was a huge effort. All of the contingency plans worked today, thank God,” she said. “[…] All of our seniors are safe.”

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.

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