10 hospitalized, several missing in Silver Spring, Maryland apartment explosion

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Ten people have been taken to hospital and several remain unaccounted for after an explosion and fire at a Maryland apartment building on Thursday morning, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring, just outside Washington, DC, at about 10:30 p.m.

Video from the outside security camera of a nearby resident shows an explosion destroying a terminal unit of a building.

Steven Inman was cooking in a nearby apartment when he heard the explosion.

“We heard a bang, a loud shake. I see the building is gone. My father is calling me and I was already running here,” he said.

Inman said he helped a woman and her toddler get out of the building and found another woman with third-degree burns on much of her body.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein said 10 people were taken to hospital, three with serious injuries.

“We do have a number of missing persons. I do not have a number to give you at this time,” Goldstein told a news conference this afternoon.

“Our focus is to stay here until everyone is accountable,” he added.

The building that exploded, as well as those adjacent to and opposite it, have been declared dangerous for re-occupation. The three buildings can accommodate about 100 people, Goldstein said.

Goldstein said there were “possible warning signs” from search dogs, which could indicate that corpses or survivors could be found in the ruins of the building that exploded. Crews will have to carry heavy machinery to remove an unstable independent wall to facilitate the search, he said.

Video from the scene shows flames falling from the roof of a building and debris scattered on the ground.

Goldstein said most of the flames had been extinguished by Thursday afternoon.

Authorities hoped to escort residents back to the buildings that were declared dangerous later on Thursday, so they could recover their belongings before being taken to a shelter or hotel and allow residents to reoccupy three more buildings.

“It’s a bit scary to see the extent of the explosion and it’s hard not to imagine the impact it had on people,” said Mark Ellich, a Montgomery County executive. “It’s definitely a difficult day.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wrote on Twitter that his team was in contact with county officials about the blast and that the state fire brigade, state police and state emergency officials offered their support.

Authorities have not yet determined the exact source or cause of the explosion, but Goldstein said there had been no previous calls to 911 about gas odor or gas leaks in the block since at least January 1 last year.

Washington Gas, a utility company serving the area, said it was aware of the incident and that its staff was assisting the fire department.

“As always, the safety of our customers and our community is our top priority,” the company said in a statement. “We support active research and have no further details to share at this time.”

In 2016, two children and five adults were killed and 68 people were taken to hospital after an explosion and fire at the Flower Branch apartments a few miles away. After a three-year investigation, National Transportation Safety Board officials said defective Washington Gas equipment was the most likely cause of the explosion. Washington Gas challenged the board’s findings.

The board also found many communication gaps and missed opportunities to fix a leak that could have prevented the 2016 explosion. People around the complex smelled gas six times in the weeks and months before the explosion, but no one never called the gas company to report a possible leak, investigators said.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

10 hospitalized, several missing in Silver Spring, Maryland apartment explosion Source link 10 hospitalized, several missing in Silver Spring, Maryland apartment explosion

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