A tragic apartment explosion in at an apartment complex in a Maryland suburb outside of Washington has left dozens of people, including three firefighters, injured and up to seven people who are still unaccounted for, authorities said Thursday.
Firefighters were called to the four-story apartment complex just before midnight Wednesday and found people on upper floors who needed help, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at a briefing.
“People were dropping children and jumping out of other windows,” Goldstein said. “Everybody was getting out of the building as rapidly as possible.”
About 30 people and three firefighters were injured, with the injuries ranging from minor to serious, Goldstein said.
Goldstein said natural gas furnaces and stoves are in each of the units. It took at least an hour and 45 minutes to put out the blaze and Washington Gas helped safely turn off gas, he said. About 90 people were displaced and a shelter was opened at a community center nearby. Residents of nearby buildings that were not affected by the fire were allowed to return to their homes after several hours.
Some occupants and bystanders reported an explosion, spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia.
Hours after the fire, smoke still was rising from the four-level garden style apartment building. Firefighters were sifting through collapsed debris and a ladder truck remained extended to the building’s upper levels.
Keni Flores said she was in an adjacent building when she heard an explosion and saw the flames.
“I just see fire everywhere,” she said. “I was thinking nobody can survive in that fire.”
Karina Hauffen was also in a nearby building at the time.
“It was a big boom, the building shook and everybody ran out,” she said.
Resident Willie Morales told The Washington Post he was walking across the road where the complex is located when he heard an explosion and collapsed to the ground.
“It was one big boom, like nothing I’d ever heard,” Morales said. Then he saw flames coming from the building and banged on windows to tell people to get out.
Searchers will deploy resources such as robots as they search the more unstable areas, Garcia said.
A canine team searching the rubble of the apartment complex had a “hit” in one location, which could indicate someone is trapped there, Goldstein said.
County officials are investigating along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Garcia said.
Video captured below shows the terrifying scene witnesses described as firefighters attempt to contain the blaze.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Prayers and well wishes for all involved in this tragedy. Many thanks to the firefighters and those helping!
Donna Slivka says
Must have been a horrible scary thing to go thru…. a little info…in Cleveland, Ohio 1930’s, gas company had big explosion, gas leaked thru the sewers and entered houses….men trying to escape from the company were fried on a fence….big changes were made due to that tragedy….a friend of ours was a teacher in that area, she was standing in a school window (Thomas Edison, I think) and felt the heat on her back…..
Cal gal says
Who, what, WHERE, when and why? Atrticle does not say. I have relative in area.
The video finally was tagged Silver Spring.
And of course, what comes to mind?
Amazing how quickly we become
conditioned to be prejudiced.
Or to awaken our natural prejudices.
Prejudices and hatred destroy our
Which wolf are you feeding?