At Least 12 Injured in 'Catastrophic' Condo Explosion

Fire chief says residents smelled gas before Maryland blast
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2022 12:21 PM CST

At least a dozen people were injured, two of them critically, in what a fire service spokesman says was a "catastrophic explosion" and fire at a condominium complex in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Wednesday morning. Officials say two injured adults were rushed to a trauma center with critical injuries; eight others, including four children, were hospitalized with mild to moderate injuries, 7News reports. Two other people refused treatment at the scene. Scott Goldstein, Chief of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, said fire crews are fighting a "gas-fed fire in the basement of the structure." "This is going to be a multi-day event," Goldstein said.

Goldstein said maintenance workers at the Potomac Oaks complex used ladders to rescue two people before firefighters arrived, NBC Washington reports. The complex has four buildings with a total of 24 units, Goldstein said. He said two buildings were badly damaged in the explosion and fire and two others were evacuated. Authorities are trying to determine whether all residents have been accounted for. Goldstein said there have been preliminary searches of the rubble, but it is still unsafe to enter nine units, reports WTOP.

People who live and work in the area said they felt a huge explosion before seeing heavy smoke and flames. "It felt like we were bombed," a man who was in a nearby office said, per NBC Washington. "My heart goes out to everyone." Goldstein said that while the cause of the blast hasn't been determined yet, residents said they smelled gas before the explosion. He said no 911 calls were received about the smell, though it's not clear whether anybody contacted Washington Gas. The chief said anybody who smells gas should call 911 immediately. (More Maryland stories.)

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