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Explosion at high-rise apartment ruled an accident

Explosion at the Claridge House leaves several hurt in Silver Spring
Explosion at the Claridge House leaves several hurt in Silver Spring
Posted at 11:46 AM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 08:54:20-05

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Fire investigators are still combing through the debris of Thursday's explosion at the Friendly Garden Apartments that left at least 14 people hurt in Silver Spring.

The explosion impacted six separate apartment buildings that sit along the 2400 block of Lyttonsville Road.

Many units inside those buildings caught fire and collapsed, with many residents having to be rescued. Three buildings remain unsafe for living, causing 100 people to be displaced. The Red Cross has set up a free emergency shelter at 1700 April Lane.

The condition of those injured vary from minor to serious, but so far no deaths. There are however some people still unaccounted for.

Investigators are looking into the cause, which could take days.

Update 3/4:

As of Friday, seven people remain hospitalized — three of which are in serious condition

There is no longer anyone unaccounted for, but a K-9 continues to alert of something under the rubble at the front of the building.

Power has been restored to three of the six apartment buildings impacted, while about half of those displaced have been allowed to return to their homes.

A cut gas pipe has been discovered in the basement of one of the buildings, indicating the possible origin of the explosion. How it happened, is under investigation.

The apartment complex has had only two reported gas leaks in the past 10-years. There are no mercury gas meters throughout the buildings.

Update 3/7:

A gas leak is what lead to an explosion and fire at an apartment complex.

Officials say a maintenance worker was trying to unclog a drain at the Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring. They mistakenly cut into the gas pipe instead of a waste pipe, causing natural gas to leak out.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Chief Scott Goldstein says his department cannot say what specifically ignited the fire due to the damage and multiple possible ignition sources.

Since the explosion, 12 people have been discharged from the hospital and one person remains in critical condition

Investigators say some nearby complexes will be uninhabitable for weeks.

Goldstein said his department is wrapping up the investigation at the site.

Editor's Note: Fire officials initially said the incident happened at the Claridge House, when in fact it was at an adjacent property. This story has been corrected to reflect that.