MD – WJZ -Neighbors in the community where fire damaged 17 buildings on Monday said they reported smelling gas last week.

“I got home last Friday and complained about a gas smell,” said neighbor Malcon Smith. “My wife called BGE, and within a half an hour, the guy came out. He ran the meter and said he didn’t get a read. But he said there was a leak in the street and somebody would come back out.”

Baltimore Gas & Electric spokesman Robert Gould said he could not immediately confirm the report. An explosion was reported before the fire broke out, fire officials said.

“But we will be looking into that,” Gould told The (Baltimore) Sun. “It is too premature to point a finger at any cause.”

The fire, which broke out about 3 p.m. in the neighborhood north of downtown, eventually spread to 17 adjacent dwellings before it was brought under control about 5:20 p.m., fire officials said.

One firefighter and one civilian suffered minor injuries.

Some 40 fire trucks and other equipment and more than 100 firefighters, paramedics and command personnel responded to the blaze in the northeastern part of Baltimore, said Kevin Cartwright, a fire department spokesman.

Cartwright said “considering the magnitude and intensity of the fire,” officials are investigating the possibility that an explosion preceded the blaze.

The building where the fire started is in a block of about a dozen buildings, some of which are vacant. The city owns 12 of the 17 units on the block and plans to buy the whole block as part of a redevelopment project, officials said.