Gas explosion leaves community in shock
The blast knocked nearby pedestrians to the ground and shattered the windows of neighboring shops. People felt the explosion in homes within a two mile radius. Many jumped from windows in an attempt to get to safety as fire engulfed the building. Infants and children were dropped from windows into the hands of friends or strangers below in an effort to get them out of the rapidly deteriorating building as quickly as possible.
Carlos Ingles, who was one of the people who ran to help after he heard the explosion, was astonished at the scene. "Children, they were thrown from the top. I don't have words," Ingles said.
Those who survived, like Armindo Benitez, returned to find they had lost everything. "It was all gone. I have no ID. I can't get money out of the bank, and my car is blocked in," Benitez said. In the aftermath of the explosion, many lost their homes and possessions.
The search for the remaining missing people has been slow due to the still dangerous and unstable conditions of the complex. Determining the exact cause of the explosion has proven very difficult as well. "It's been a very challenging incident for us not only in terms of the hot weather, but the building still presents as a collapse hazard," acting fire chief David Steckel said.
Some of those who lost their homes took refuge in the Long Branch community center, which acted as a shelter and reunification center. Other services, such as Wi-Fi, computers and air conditioning were offered at the Long Branch library.
Blazers can help those impacted in the Silver Spring explosion by volunteering and helping with donations. Click here for more information.
Amy Forsbacka. Hi, I'm Amy. I love drinking coffee, trying tasty new foods and doing yoga. I also enjoy running and relaxing. More »