Update: City officials say the mystery boom came from the University of Maryland’s power plant on Baltimore Avenue. In a message posted to Nextdoor, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said the sound “was the result of a large boiler on campus releasing a large build-up of pressure.”
Later, also on Nextdoor, College Park City Councilor Fazlul Kabir added more details.
“According to our contact at the UMD there was an unintended pressure release that caused both a flash and a loud boom on Sunday, August 18, shortly before 2 a.m. While information is still being gathered the cause initially appears to be an over-pressurization contained within the university’s Energy Plant building. Thankfully, no one was injured and there was no utility loss on campus. Facilities Management is continuing to evaluate the incident in partnership with the power plant operator. There was no damage to the building.”
According to The Diamondback, the University of Maryland Energy Plant (its formal name) is a natural gas fueled combined heat and energy plant that generates both electricity and steam to use in the campus’ older radiator-heated structures.
Original article below:
Dozens of ear-witnesses in College Park, Greenbelt and Berwyn Heights, including this journalist, reported hearing a loud, explosion-like boom in the early-morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. The noise rattled residents, who took to social media to report their experiences. As of Sunday evening, no definitive cause for the noise has been disclosed by local officials.
This journalist was drinking on his balcony near the intersection of 49th Avenue and Tecumseh Road in College Park when he heard the mystery boom at around 1:45 a.m. Aug. 19. The sound appeared to emanate from the south, in the direction of the University of Maryland campus and College Park’s Route 1 corridor. The sound was not accompanied by a flash of light, such as from lightning.
Shortly afterwards, other residents took to social media to describe the sound. One Berwyn Heights resident uploaded a security camera video recording of the boom. In the video, a, sudden, loud, thunderous report is heard, followed shortly afterwards by smaller percussive reports and rolling echos. The uploader, in a comment on Nextdoor, said she captured the sound on two seperate security cameras mounted to her house. Further, she said the sound was recorded much louder on her south-facing porch camera than her north-facing camera.
College Park City Councilor Fazlul Kabir said on Nextdoor later in the day that police nor fire and emergency units could locate the source of the blast. College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn speculated the sound was a transformer explosion, perhaps triggered by an unfortunate squirrel.