By: Allan M. Siegel
An explosion and fire at a Silver Spring, Maryland apartment building on
August 10 has left at least two people dead and 34 injured. Montgomery
County officials have not determined the cause of the blast, which forced
some apartment residents to flee the apartment complex and others to toss
children from balconies to escape harm. The fire and explosion has displaced
about 100 residents of Flower Branch Apartments apartment complex, which
is located at 8701 and 8703 Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring.
Apartment residents suffered a wide range of injuries, including smoke
inhalation, burns, cuts, abrasions, and fractures caused by jumping off
balconies or out of windows. Fire and EMS crews transported 31 apartment
residents and three firefighters to local hospitals.
The cause of the explosion and fire remains undetermined, but NBC News4
interviewed Flower Branch resident Adrian Boya, who said he had been smelling
gas for weeks. Another resident interviewed by NBC 4, Joy West, also said
she could smell gas in the apartment complex’s premises prior to
the blast. News4 also interviewed a Flower Branch Apartments former employee
who claimed that the smell of gas was a common complaint at the complex.
At a press conference on August 11, Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett
said officials had received a call on July 25 about a smell of gas at
the apartment complex, but it was unclear whether this earlier issue played
a role in the explosion and fire. Leggett said it appeared natural gas
may have sparked the explosion, but cautioned that the investigation could
take weeks. Montgomery County Fire and EMS records indicate that firefighters
could not verify the gas odor on July 25, according to reports.
The apartment units have natural gas furnaces and cooktop stoves, but Montgomery
County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein stated authorities do not know what
caused the explosion. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives has deployed a National Response Unit to the scene to investigate
the cause of the blast and fire.
If it turns out the building owners, property managers, or landlords of
Flower Branch Apartments knew or should have known about gas leaking problems
and related issues prior to the deadly explosion and fire, these parties
can be held liable to the injured apartment residents and the family members
of the deceased. Additionally, Washington Gas may be liable if the investigation
reveals the gas company negligently allowed gas to leak, causing the blast
and fire. In other words, if Washington Gas knew or should have known
about a possible gas leak problem at Flower Branch Apartments, the gas
company can be held legally responsible if the gas leak caused the explosion and fire.
Potential claims could include
premises liability, negligence, and
wrongful death. Injured victims and family members may be able to recover for expenses
incurred by the explosion and fire including medical bills, relocation
and moving costs, and other expenses for ongoing health care.
The dedicated attorneys of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.
are actively investigating the Flower Branch Apartments explosion and
fire in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you or someone you love was harmed
in this tragic event, protect your legal rights and please
call us today for a free, prompt, and confidential consultation with an attorney.