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Ten people were injured, some seriously at the Friendly Garden apartment complex in Silver Spring, Md. Residents told reporters they smelled gas and heard a blast at the structure made up of affordable units in the 2400 block of Lyttonsville Road.
Scott Goldstein, chief of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, told reporters that several of the wounded sustained serious injuries, although no deaths were reported.
The complex consists of multiple buildings, all of which have been evacuated. Officials say further searches will be necessary of all adjacent buildings to ensure no one is trapped. Rescue crews were still looking throughout the area for survivors this afternoon.
The blaze was reported after 10:30 a.m. and more than 100 firefighters responded. Crews said they were able to pull several occupants from inside the building before it became completely engulfed in flames. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Baltimore said on Twitter that investigators were responding to the area to assist county officials.
Residents and witnesses told local news stations that they saw terrified people fleeing the scene. One described a woman dropping a baby from a window and then struggle to free herself from the building. Another described a man running from the building while holding a small child.
Nearby residents described to local news crews neighbors running to help. One person put out the flames burning a victim fleeing the explosion. Others described letting burn victims rest in their homes.
Several people are still unaccounted for, and fire investigators say the exact number is unknown.
Montgomery County executive Marc Elrich spoke at the scene. He said the county would step in to help residents who are left homeless after the disaster have shelter and that the county will support those displaced for “as long as it takes.”
He said, “They can’t just pick up and go and find another place. We know there is an absolute shortage of affordable housing to start with.”
Chief Goldstein said no fatalities have been reported so far. The cause of the fire is still unknown.