Silver Spring explosion: 10 transported in apartment building blast, several unaccounted for
SILVER SPRING, Md. - UPDATE: During an afternoon press conference, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Chief Scott Goldstein said there are several tenants "unaccounted for." Officials do not have an exact number of how many people are missing. The search will continue through the night.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer said security fencing is being placed around the perimeter, and three buildings have been deemed unsafe to occupy. Three people have potential life-threatening injuries.
Authorities say 11 people have been transported after an explosion and fire led to a structural collapse that destroyed part of an apartment complex in Silver Spring Thursday morning.
The fire was reported around 10:30 a.m. at the four-story Friendly Garden Apartments on Lyttonsville Road.
At a briefing on the scene, Montgomery County officials said at least ten people had been hospitalized with both critical and less severe injuries. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, they said.
VIDEO SHOWS MOMENT BLAST DESTROYS SILVER SPRING APARTMENT BUILDING
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer said at this time no known fatalities have been reported.
The complex consists of multiple buildings, all of which have been evacuated. Officials say a secondary search of all adjacent buildings is being conducted to ensure no one is trapped. Between 120 and 150 firefighters are on the scene. Utility crews are also at the apartment complex at this time.
A resident's security camera captured video of the exact moment the explosion tore through the building. The video shows a fireball and cloud of smoke pushing through the outer wall of the structure followed by a loud eruption. Parts of the building could be seen collapsing before screams from neighbors were heard. A gray cloud of debris enveloped much of the part of the building where the explosion occurred.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called the situation "flat out depressing" at a briefing this afternoon. Buses have arrived to the scene to help shelter those who have been evacuated from the buildings. Drivers can expect road closures to remain in place through the afternoon while crews investigate.
Black smoke could be seen billowing from the apartment complex for miles as firefighters first responded to the blaze. Residents who were there when the explosion happened spoke with FOX 5 and described feeling what felt like an earthquake just as the blast and fire erupted.
SKYFOX aerials showed major damage to sections of the complex including the roof and outer walls --some being completely destroyed. Unconfirmed reports from some residents say gas crews were working in the area prior to the explosion and fire.
In 2016, an explosion at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring killed seven people, including two children, and left many more injured.
Residents at Flower Branch said they reported smelling natural gas in the weeks that led up to that explosion.
After an investigation, officials say a mercury service regulator that was not connected to its vent line was the source of a gas leak that led to that deadly incident.
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This is a developing story. Stay with us for updates.