BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Investigators believe the explosion that rocked a Silver Spring apartment building last week was an accident caused by a broken gas line, officials said Monday.
The investigation determined that a maintenance worker was working to unclog a drain pipe in one of the apartments’ apartments when he accidentally cut an unmarked gas line, Montgomery County Sheriff Scott Goldstein said.
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“This event will be classified as random,” Sheriff Goldstein said, adding that investigators “have not and will not be able to determine the exact source of the fire” due to the wide range of possibilities.
The explosion, which occurred around 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Friendly Garden Apartments, leveled one of the buildings and covered the nearby area with a mixture of smoke and debris. At least 14 people were hospitalized.
Of those taken to the hospital, Goldstein said 12 have been released. He said one person remains hospitalized in critical condition and another is being treated for an unrelated medical condition.
As of Monday, the sheriff said, authorities believed everyone present at the time of the explosion had been accounted for. He said canines have not been alerted around the debris field since Friday when a glove was recalled.
“We were confident and comfortable saying there was no one at the front of the building,” says Goldstein.
Residents of three buildings at the complex have been allowed to return home, but three buildings, including the one at the center of the blast, remain unsafe to occupy, the fire chief said.
He said authorities are working with residents who have been displaced this week to return them to the facility so they can retrieve important belongings.
Re-tapping what investigators believe happened, Goldstein said a maintenance worker was unclogging a resident’s drain when he cut a pipe not labeled as a gas pipe and then put a lid on top of it.
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Workers were returning to the upper floors of Unit 101 when a “flash of fire” broke out, injuring residents, Goldstein said. He said workers were helping residents out of the building when the explosion happened.
“People need to realize that if they smell gas, don’t turn on the light switch, immediately exit the structure,” the chief said. “Call 911 immediately from the outside…and don’t come back.”
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said investigators’ findings confirm what they suspected last week, that a cut gas pipeline was the culprit.
“It’s not a black gas pipe,” Elrich said. “It’s pretty much indistinguishable from the other pipes in it.”
The county executive said officials are looking into making changes in response to the blast, including requiring pipes to be clearly labeled inside all buildings with pipes. Exposed.
“We can ask for it, we believe, and we will look to do it,” he said.
In addition, Elrich said officials are considering whether to organize training for maintenance workers to ensure they can distinguish one gas line from another.
Goldstein said the fire agency, which is still in charge of the investigation, will return control of the facility to property management this week when the investigation is concluded.
An emergency shelter opened at the White Oak Recreation Center for people displaced by the explosion and a disaster assistance shelter is scheduled to open on Tuesday to help residents get back to life. their.
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Residents affected by last week’s blast are urged to call 240-447-2693.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/07/silver-spring-maryland-apartment-explosion-accidental/ Silver Spring Apartment Exploding Accidentally, Gas Lines Cut – CBS Baltimore