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Fire officials say more than 90 residents were displaced after a three-alarm fire broke out at a Maryland apartment complex. Dozens of people were hurt, including several firefighters.
WUSA

SILVER SPRING, Md. — At least two people died and several remained missing after a natural gas explosion and fire leveled an apartment building late Wednesday in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md., fire officials said.

Assistant Chief Russ Hamill of the Montgomery County Police told reporters Thursday that two bodies were found in the ruins and that the scene would be handled as a “death investigation.”

Hamill said 34 people, including three firefighters, were taken to the hospital. Many of the injuries were sustained by people jumping out of windows, according to Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, WJLA-TV reported.

“People were dropping children and jumping out of other windows,” he said. “Everybody was getting out of the building as rapidly as possible.”

The fire chief said each unit contained a natural gas furnace and a stove. He said it took almost two hours to put out the fire and turn off the gas.

Injuries ranged from abrasions to broken bones, burns and smoke inhalation.

Montgomery County Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer tweeted that more than 160 firefighters and emergency workers made “numerous rescues” at Flower Branch Apartments.

Rescue efforts were hampered by power lines and the natural gas fueling the blaze, he said. Nearly 100 people were displaced and multiple buildings were damaged, fire officials said.

Firefighters reported that part of a building collapsed and the debris on adjacent streets and parking lots indicated an explosion, Piringer tweeted.

Carlos Mendez, who lives in the complex three buildings down from the initial blast, said he bolted from his apartment as soon as the blast hit.

“I felt something hit and shook the building,” he said. Mendez also said he saw someone jump from the building with his clothes on fire.

Paul Carden, spokesman for the American Red Cross, said about 60 of the nearly 100 displaced residents reported to an emergency shelter set up at a local library.

Carden said people came and went throughout the night as arrangements were made for temporary relocation of the displaced residents.

Tom Hucker, a Montgomery County councilmember, tweeted that the blast shattered a window in the Montgomery Beauty School, about 150 feet across Arliss Street from the apartments.