The victims of the Silver Spring apartment explosion have partnered with two law firms and say they will file a lawsuit in the coming weeks.
CASA, an advocacy group that has helped the victims since the Aug. 10 blast, announced the partnership during a news conference Wednesday morning.
"I think it's very important that these families are compensated for what happened," said CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres.
It's not clear who the lawsuit will be filed against or how much compensation will be sought. The announcement comes nearly a month after the overnight explosion killed seven people and left dozens injured.
Investigators have positively identified the residents killed by the explosion as Deibi "David" Samir Lainez Morales, 8; Fernando Josue Hernandez Orellana, 3; Augusto Jimenez, Sr., 62; Maria Auxiliadorai Castellon-Martinez, 53, and Saul Paniagua, 65.
CASA says more than 30 residents were injured and dozens now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"They were sleeping in the car for a while," one resident told News4 last month. "Now they've returned to the apartments, but they're afraid to turn the gas stove on. They're afraid to cook."
Authorities have said that natural gas was a factor in the blast that involved two buildings at the apartment complex. However, investigators are still trying to determine what caused the gas explosion.
Residents of the apartment complex have told News4 that they had long complained of a smell of gas around the apartments, which each have a natural gas furnace and stove.
"I've been smelling gas for weeks," said Adriene Boye shortly after the explosion. "I called 911, they came and told us it smelled like incense. That's pretty sad. It's like they didn't take us seriously."
Boye said he smelled the gas on the night of the explosion, too -- but he didn't have time to call 911 before the building blew up.
Montgomery County Acting Fire Chief Alan Hinde confirmed the fire department had received one 911 call for the report of a natural gas odor, on July 25.
The fire department went to the area where the odor was reported, and surveyed building with a meter, but found no positive results, Hinde said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the blast because natural gas and petroleum pipelines are under the board's jurisdiction, he said.
The NTSB aims to have their investigation completed within a year.