Around 8:40 p.m., one of several transformers adjacent to the campus police headquarters exploded, causing several small grass fires nearby.
A huge orange fireball rose above the police station.
The explosion occurred within minutes of the conclusion of the graduation ceremony of Lansdowne High School at the Retriever Activity Center, and heat could be felt all the way to the fine arts building.
"I was coming up the hill and heard this ba-boom and saw a gas ball a hundred feet wide," says Rob Robinson of Arbutus.
"I was in my truck at the stop light and felt the heat," says Steve Mang of Columbia, who teaches chemistry at UMBC.
According to Breaking News Network, firefighters are inspecting several buildings on campus for the presence of smoke.
The explosion spewed an oily substance over an area about a hundred feet wide, including the side of the police station building and two police cars parked out front.
One student, who asked not to be identified, says that the lights flicked several times before the explosion.
"I was in my apartment and the lights were blinking and blinking, and then this happened," he says.