Video: 14 hospitalized after explosion, fire at Md. apartments

Dozens of firefighters, EMS providers responded to the 2-alarm blaze


UPDATED at 11:35 a.m., March 4

The Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. — All known residents of an apartment building have been accounted for a day after an explosion and fire destroyed the building, a Maryland fire chief announced Friday.

Charred rubble is seen after an apartment building collapsed after an explosion Thursday in Silver Spring, Md.
Charred rubble is seen after an apartment building collapsed after an explosion Thursday in Silver Spring, Md. (Photo/Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

Officials are still working to confirm that there were no visitors or people other than the residents of the 14 units at the Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring at the time of Thursday's explosion, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at a briefing.

Officials now know that 14 people went to hospitals, he said, including three people in serious condition. The others have injuries that range from minor to moderate.

A maintenance worker who was in the building at the time of the explosion was injured and has been talking with investigators, Goldstein said. Investigators are looking at whether the work led to the explosion, among other theories, he said.

About 230 residents were displaced overnight from the six buildings in the complex just north of Washington, D.C. , and three of those buildings were deemed unsafe to occupy, he said. Work will continue Friday to replace the transformer and restore electricity to the remaining buildings so those residents can return.

A nearby resident's outdoor security camera recorded the explosion obliterating an end unit of one building. Other video from the scene showed flames shooting from the roof and debris scattered on the ground.
 

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The Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Ten people were taken to hospitals, including several people with serious injuries, after an explosion and fire at a Maryland apartment building Thursday morning, a fire official said.

Firefighters responded around 10:30 a.m. after 911 callers reported an explosion at the four-story building in Silver Spring, less than a mile north of Washington, D.C., Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein said during a news conference.

Crews arriving on the scene found significant fire and evidence of an explosion, Goldstein said. They immediately went to work battling the flames and helped several people get out before the building was completely consumed by fire and there was a collapse, he said. Crews brought 10 people to local hospitals, he said. Several people had serious injuries and others had injuries that were more minor, he said.

There were still pockets of fire in the building after noon, he said. People were evacuated from adjacent buildings and he said the structural damage could be significant. Crews were searching the buildings a second time to make sure no one was missed.

It's not known how many people are unaccounted for and how many people will be displaced, Goldstein said.

It's not clear where the fire began and too early to say how it started, he said.

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

"We heard the bang, loud shake. I see that the building is gone," Inman said. "My father yells out to me and I was already running over here."

His father helped a woman and her small child get out and Inman said he stayed to break down more doors and was able to help an elderly woman with burns all over her body, he said.

"I had to assist her first because she was dealing with shock," he said. When paramedics arrived, they got her out quickly then went to an adjoining building to help evacuate others.

Inman said he is an Army veteran with medical care experience.

"If you want to ask me why did I do it, it was just instinct. How do I feel about it, terrible," he said. "But I am glad I was there and able to do this."

About 150 personnel from across the region responded to battle the blaze, Goldstein said.

"It's kind of scary looking at the extent of the explosion and it's hard not to imagine the impact it's had on people," Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said. "It's definitely a tough day."

Video from the scene showed flames shooting from the roof of a brick garden-style apartment building and debris on the ground surrounding the building. Later, firefighters could be seen dousing the smoking, roofless building.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted that his team has been in contact with county officials about the explosion and fire and state fire marshal, state police and state emergency management officials are offering their support.

State Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, who represents the district where the building is located, said on the Senate floor in Annapolis that information was still coming in about the explosion in the Lyttonsville area, which is a historically African-American community.
 

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