WASHINGTON – Nearly a dozen people in Silver Spring, Maryland, were injured following a fire and explosion at a residential apartment complex that then partially collapsed, local authorities said on Thursday.
Heavy smoke was seen pouring out of the four-story building in a video posted by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, which said the fire was now “basically contained.” Officials have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.
Ten people were transported to the hospital, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein told reporters at the scene. He described three to be “serious injuries” and the remainder to range from “moderate to minor” injuries
Several people remain unaccounted for, Goldstein added.
“Our focus is to remain here until everybody is accounted for,” he said.
The apartment complex, about seven miles outside of Washington, had heavy structural damage, Goldstein noted.
Video showed the entire back half of one of the complex’s buildings gone and the area blanketed in thick gray smoke.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said state officials were in contact with Montgomery County authorities to offer assistance.
“Please keep all those involved, including our first responders, in your prayers,” Hogan tweeted.
County emergency responders were summoned to the multiple-alarm fire midmorning on Thursday, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said earlier in a video statement online.
About 100 county firefighters responded to the scene, the county fire department said. District of Columbia Fire and EMS said in a tweet that they were sending several units to the area to assist.
“This is obviously a really tragic event,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich told reporters, citing the fire’s speed but noting that most residents were at work or school. He added that county officials would step in to offer shelter and other aid to residents of the apartments, which were affordable housing units.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengalaru; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Alexandra Hudson and Aurora Ellis)