SILVER SPRING, Md. - Many people are still searching for their loved ones after a fire explosion ripped through an apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland late Wednesday night.
Among those people searching are two mothers and a daughter, who say they haven’t seen their loved ones since the night of the fire. Angie Paniagua says her father is missing – he lived on the first floor of the apartment complex that was reduced to rubble by the explosion. “I'm devastated, I honestly have no words to even begin to describe what I feel,” Paniagua said.
Paniagua says she is able to move forward only because of her faith, faith that her 65-year-old father, Saul Paniagua, will be found. “I’m a firm believer in God, and that he can make anything happen. There is nothing impossible. So I have faith, that he's out there somewhere and I won't lose that faith until I have confirmation,” Paniagua said as she was fighting back tears.
There are also two mothers who are desperately searching for their sons – 8-year-old David Lainex Morales and 3-year-old Fernando Josue Hernandez, who haven’t been seen since the explosion. The two boys and their mothers lived in the same apartment where they shared on bedroom, according to Rosibel Morales, David’s mother. The floor of their room collapsed and the mothers couldn’t hang onto their children.
As of now only three bodies have been found in the rubble, the third body was found late Friday afternoon. The bodies of two people were removed from the building Thursday. Investigators have not yet identified the three victims.
Workers with Washington Gas were supposed to conduct some tests on Saturday afternoon around the apartment building, but decided to postpone the tests till Monday. Crews are using heavy machinery to rip off chunks of the building to continue search efforts for the missing people.
Officials expect the death toll to increase as the search continues. They are also searching for a cause and looking at the possibility that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak. “They are going in hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with our tactical rescue folks, to get in and begin their cause and origin investigation,” Pete Piringer with the Montgomery County Fire Department said.
Donations have been pouring in to help the residents who have been displaced from the apartment complex located on Piney Branch Road. CASA de Maryland said on Friday they have received so much that they are no longer taking in donated items. However, they will still continue to accept money and gift cards donations.
Other organizations are still accepting donations of all kinds. Click here for more information on how you can help.