Explosion And Fire At Flower Branch Apartments In Silver Spring [UPDATEDx2: 2 Now Confirmed Dead, 31 Injured, 5 Missing]

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A massive explosion and fire leveled a Silver Spring apartment complex with a blast that could be felt a mile away, leaving two dead and injuring 31 people and forcing nearly 100 people from two buildings with some residents tossing their children from windows, officials said Thursday.

Authorities did not identify the dead at a lunchtime news conference or release a cause for the fire, but crews shifted into search mode Thursday morning, seeking to account for missing residents of the two adjacent buildings at the Flower Branch Apartments on Piney Branch Road. Authorities said there were 14 units in each building. Authorities said there were 14 units in each building.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

The Washington Post and other media outlets are reporting on a major explosion and fire that began around midnight last night here in the Long Branch area of Silver Spring. Over 100 people have been displaced and at last report 5-7 people are unaccounted for, although no fatalities have been officially reported yet.

A massive explosion and fire leveled a Silver Spring apartment complex with a blast that could be felt a mile away, injuring 31 people, including three firefighters, and forcing nearly 100 people from two buildings with some residents tossing their children from windows.

Authorities reported no fatalities, but crews shifted into search mode Thursday morning, seeking to account for five to seven missing residents of the two adjacent buildings at the Flower Branch Apartments on Piney Branch Road. Authorities said there were 14 units in each building.

Video of the aftermath can be seen here.

[UPDATE: here’s raw video credited to AP of the fire at its height much earlier this morning.]

I’ve received many emails on what people can do to help and to make donations. The affected residents are being cared for at the Long Branch Community Center. Right now, the Red Cross and others are asking people NOT to go to the site at Piney Branch Road and Arliss Street as roads are closed and rescue efforts are continuing. Donations can be made as follows, per Regional Services Director Reemberto Rodriguez:

If you would like to make a financial or goods contribution now, here is how to do it:

MAIL (via check) FINANCIAL DONATION
Mail it to:

Montgomery Housing Partnership
(Attn: Long Branch Fire)
12200 Tech Road, Suite 250
Silver Spring, MD 20904
[*] Write LONG BRANCH FIRE in check memo

ON-LINE FINANCIAL DONATION
(Easiest – and preferred!)
[1] Go to: www.MHPartners.org
[2] Click on “Give Direct” (on right side of your screen)
[3] Input amount and credit card number
[*] Make sure you indicate LONG BRANCH FIRE in the ‘comment’ box:

GOODS
(Toiletries, canned/boxed food, clothing)
CASA Welcome Center
734 University Blvd East
(Off University Blvd, just south of Piney Branch)

We also encourage you to stay in contact with your networks (civic organizations, non-profits, and others) for further information and opportunities to help.

… more information as it develops …

Councilmember Tom Hucker’s office issued a similar statement, as did Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the County’s Department of Health and Human Services. She also noted that the county will be having a press conference at 11:30 to update this information.

As more information becomes available, I will provide updates.

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