The incident at the complex unfolded around 10:30 am Thursday. Residents reported hearing a loud boom and felt an explosion before smoke and debris spread. A video captured the explosion, and people could be heard screaming. Firefighters and bystanders rushed to help rescue people.
Sylvia Bunyasi, 48, was at home in a nearby building when the explosion happened. “The building was totally engulfed. We could feel it; we could feel how hot it was, ”she said.
Three people were hospitalized in critical condition, and seven others suffered less serious injuries, officials said.
The cause of the blast is under investigation. Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said there had been no reports of gas leaks at the complex since Jan. 1. Some residents said they smelled gas before the Thursday blast.
Rescue dogs and firefighters walked carefully on top of rubble and debris Thursday afternoon as they looked for survivors or bodies. The dogs indicated possible “alerts” that at least one body was under the rubble, Goldstein said.
Goldstein said Thursday, “It is too early for me to say what initiated this.”