Explosion, Fire at MD Apartment Complex Leaves Two Dead, 31 Injured, Others Missing

Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue Service(SILVER SPRING, Md.) — 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 Thursday 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 Thursday and have not yet been identified. Several residents are still unaccounted for, officials said.

At least 30 people were wounded, including three firefighters, from the blast and three-alarm fire. About 90 residents from 28 apartment units in two buildings were forced to evacuate, 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. Thursday 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 Thursday.

Officials have not yet confirmed the cause of the blast and fire.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to the explosion just before midnight and continued to battle a blaze into the morning that caused structural collapse in one building and damaged several others. The blast also shattered storefront windows across the street.

Some people were allowed back inside their apartments Thursday. Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter 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.”

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