Watch: Explosion at Maryland Apartment Complex Kills 2, Injures 31
An explosion and fire at an apartment complex in Maryland’s Montgomery County late Wednesday night left at least two people dead, dozens injured and several missing, officials said.
Firefighters and rescue crews remained on the scene today at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring to assess the risk and search the rubble for trapped residents. Two bodies were found in the debris today and have not yet been identified. Several residents are still unaccounted for, officials said.
At least 31 people were wounded, including three firefighters, from the blast and three-alarm fire. About 100 residents from 28 apartment units in two buildings were forced to evacuate and are displaced, according to Montgomery County Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer.
There are natural gas furnaces and quick fire stove tops in each apartment unit of the four-level buildings on Piney Branch Road, officials said. Washington Gas, which serves more than 1.1 million customers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., was able to turn off the natural gas to the complex around 1:45 a.m. this morning.
“Washington Gas is supporting local, state and federal officials responding to and investigating this incident. Our thoughts are with the families impacted by this event,” the oil and gas company said in a statement to ABC News today.
Officials have not yet confirmed the cause of the blast and fire.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said fire and rescue teams responded to a complaint at the apartment complex on July 25 about the smell of gasoline in the area. Officials are still looking into the complaint, Leggett said at a news conference this afternoon.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to the explosion Wednesday just before midnight and continued to battle a blaze into this morning that caused structural collapse in one building and damaged several others. The blast also shattered storefront windows across the street. Officials said a total of 125 firefighters responded to the incident.
Some people were allowed back inside their apartments today. The American Red Cross and local officials have set up a temporary shelter at the Long Branch Community Center for displaced occupants, like Mariana Turag.
Turag told ABC News she heard the explosion, which “felt like an earthquake,” and saw flames billowing out from the apartment unit across from hers.
“That blast was a warning for everyone to get out,” Turag said at the shelter. “I open the door — there was a big blast in the apartment across from me.”
For those looking for ways to help victims, the Razoo Foundation, the nonprofit partner of the crowdfunding platform Razook, has started a fundraiser to help families affected by the explosion and fire in Silver Spring. Razoo aims to raise $5,000 and all donations will benefit the Montgomery Housing Partners, a nonprofit that has stepped up to help the displaced Flower Branch Apartment residents.
ABC News’ Dee Carden contributed to this report.