Maryland Apartment Fire Under Investigation, Missing Persons Not Yet Found

An explosion that blazed into a massive fire in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. has killed two people and injured at least 34, with several still unaccounted for, CNN reports.

Montgomery County Assistant Police Chief Russ Hamill said in a news conference that the two bodies found in the charred apartment building in Silver Springs have not yet been identified. Police are working to identify some five to seven missing persons, with rescue dogs searching the rubble.

Thirty-one residents and three firefighters were brought to local hospitals, none of whom sustained any life-threatening injuries, local officials said. Injuries ranged from broken noses to cuts, burns and smoke inhalation. The firefighters were given treatment and released shortly after.

Around 90 more people from 28 buildings in the complex have been displaced by the incident and authorities are now making sure that the burned-out, four-storey structure will not collapse for safety purposes. The building was home to many Spanish-speaking families, and translators were brought in to help them.

Authorities have declared the scene a “mass casualty incident,” according to NBC Washington.

The fire started at the Flower Branch apartment complex shortly before midnight Wednesday, officials stated. Investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the explosion that prompted the fire, including reports of gas smells in the area.

Some 150 firefighters rushed to respond, rescuing several residents from upper floors of the building. Others dropped children from the windows and jumped to safety, according to Montgomery Fire Chief Scott Goldstein.

Witnesses told WJLA that they heard a booming sound and felt their buildings shake. Firefighters located six miles away at a station reported feeling the same explosion.

Videos taken early Thursday morning show the apartment building full ablaze, with gaping holes caused by the reported blast. More photos taken later showed debris scattered over the area, including clothes and items hanging from nearby trees. Footage above is from ABC Action News.

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