10 Injured in Possible Building Explosion in Gaithersburg, MD – NBC Washington DC (44)

WASHINGTON – A “catastrophic” explosion injured at least a dozen people in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and caused a part of the structure to collapse, according to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department.

The agency reported that the flames broke out in the 800 block of Quince Orchard Boulevard, near Rabbit Road, at the Potomac Oaks condominium. Officials received multiple calls Wednesday morning alerting them to the explosion and fire, which sent smoke into the air that was visible from miles away.

“It looked like we had been bombed,” said a man who felt the blast from his nearby office. “…My heart goes out to everyone.”

Most of the fire had been extinguished about 40 minutes later, but crews were working to put out any hot spots and were looking for anyone who might have been inside.

Ten people were taken to hospitals, according to authorities. Two adults were seriously injured and were rushed to a trauma center, according to Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. Eight other people, four children and four adults, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Goldstein added.

For his part, Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer indicated that other people were evaluated but the situation was still fluid.

It was not immediately known how many people lived in the affected units. Goldstein said the Potomac Oaks complex has four buildings with a total of 24 units. Two of the buildings were badly damaged and the other two were evacuated. It is estimated that approximately 50 to 75 people may have been evicted.

The whereabouts of all the occupants of one of the buildings are known. But officials said they had not been able to contact occupants of a unit in the second damaged structure since 2 p.m.


The cause of the fire and explosion has yet to be determined, but Goldstein anticipated that it appeared to be a “gas fueled” fire in the basement.

Firefighters worked with Washington Gas to shut off the gas.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Washington Gas officials said they were “aware of this morning’s incident in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our personnel are responding to assist the on-scene fire department. As always, the Safety of our customers and community is our top priority. We are supporting active response to the incident and have no further details to share at this time.”

After authorities arrived, some residents told them they had smelled gas earlier in the morning.

A “catastrophic” explosion left at least a dozen injured in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and caused a part of the structure to collapse, according to authorities. Residents shared with T44 the moments of terror.

“Our investigators were informed of the smell of gas this morning,” Goldstein said, but said 911 personnel had not received a call before the explosion about the smell. However, it is not yet known if anyone may have contacted Washington Gas, other agencies or building management.

Previously, on September 22, a possible gas leak was reported in one of the buildings, according to the fire department. Officials are reviewing that incident for more information.

If you smell gas at any time, you should immediately call 911, Goldstein said.

Structural engineers are evaluating the buildings to determine how they can continue operations inside and out.


After first responders arrived, some residents told them they had smelled gas earlier in the morning. That was the case of Liliana, a resident of the area who related her experience to Telemundo 44.

“When I came from dropping my children off from school, I went into the apartment and heard the explosion. It amazes me because my children were here in front and we ran out to see,” he said.

The woman and her family even rescued a minor who had alleged respiratory problems.

“We took a child, the child’s mother and her husband. The man ran like crazy in his car with his baby because the child was not breathing and the baby is tender,” revealed Liliana.

After the loud explosion, some residents were immediately able to help those in the affected buildings.

Linson Hooch explained how he and another resident removed a child from the apartments.

“The fire was already too full, [había] a lot of smoke… He threw the extinguisher on my back. He was behind me with the extinguisher and that’s when I snatched the child from the lady and told her, ‘You have to get out,’” said Matute. “When I took the boy outside, I gave him to my sister because I thought that the boy had inhaled a lot of smoke, that he was dead. But no, he was alive.

“I took a fire extinguisher from the inside and with that fire extinguisher I opened the way for [salieran] them”, added Edison Guacho.

For these capeless heroes, putting their own lives at risk was not an impediment to helping others.

“We began to open the other apartments and we broke about four windows to tell people to come out, to come out, that the fire was already too much,” Matute continued. “It was spreading to the other apartments. Later I left, and that’s when the firefighters arrived and told us that we couldn’t be in the area any more.”

Maintenance workers also rescued two people from an apartment using ladders before firefighters arrived, Goldstein said.

The footage showed a gaping hole that leveled part of a garden-style apartment building. Smoke choked the space between the two sides of the area that apparently experienced the explosion.

A large field of debris covered the grass outside the building.

People in the area tweeted that they can see smoke from miles away. A video posted by Channing Work just before 9am showed dark smoke billowing into the area. Sirens could be heard in the distance.

Stay tuned to Telemundo 44 for an update on this developing story.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.