Ten hospitalized, several missing in the explosion of an apartment in Maryland | National Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Ten people were taken to hospital and several remain missing following an explosion and fire at a Maryland apartment building Thursday morning, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to the Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring, just outside Washington, DC, around 10:30 a.m.

Video footage from a nearby resident’s outdoor security camera shows an explosion wiping out an end unit of a building.

Steven Inman was cooking in a nearby apartment when he heard the explosion.

“We heard the bang, a loud shaking. I see the building is gone. My dad is yelling at me and I was already running here,” he said.

Inman said he helped a woman and her small child out of the building and found another woman with third-degree burns over much of her body.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein said 10 people were taken to hospital, three of them seriously injured.

“We have several missing. I don’t have a number to give you at this point,” Goldstein said at an afternoon news conference.

“Our goal is to stay here until everyone is found,” he added.

The building that exploded, as well as those immediately adjacent and opposite it, have been declared unsafe to reoccupy. The three buildings house about 100 people, Goldstein said.

Goldstein said there were “possible indications of alerts” from search dogs, which could indicate bodies or survivors may be in the wreckage of the blown up building. Crews will have to bring heavy machinery to remove an unstable freestanding wall to aid in the search, he said.

Video from the scene showed flames shooting from the roof of a building and debris strewn across the ground.

Goldstein said most of the flames were extinguished by Thursday afternoon.

Authorities hoped to escort residents back to the buildings that were declared unsafe later Thursday so they could collect their belongings before being taken to shelters or hotels, and allow residents to reoccupy three more buildings.

“It’s kind of scary to see the scale of the explosion and it’s hard not to imagine the impact it had on people,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “It’s definitely a tough day.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan tweeted that his team had been in contact with county officials about the explosion and that the state fire marshal, state police and city officials State Emergency Management offered support.

Authorities have yet to determine the origin or exact cause of the explosion, but Goldstein said there were no 911 calls about the smell of gas or a gas leak on the block. since at least January 1 of last year.

Washington Gas, a utility that serves the area, said it was aware of the incident and its personnel were assisting firefighters.

“As always, the safety of our customers and our community is our top priority,” the company said in a statement. “We support the active investigation and have no further details to share at this time.”

In 2016, two children and five adults were killed, and 68 people sent to hospital, after an explosion and fire at Flower Branch apartments a few miles away. After a three-year investigation, National Transportation Safety Board officials said faulty Washington Gas equipment was the most likely cause of the explosion. Washington Gas challenged the board’s findings.

The council also found multiple communication gaps and missed opportunities to fix the leak that could have prevented the 2016 explosion. People around the complex smelled natural gas six times in the weeks and months leading up to the explosion, but no one ever called the gas company to report a possible leak, investigators said.

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