Montgomery County

Dozens Displaced in Fire at Flower Branch Apartments in Maryland: Officials

It's the same complex where a massive explosion killed 7 people in 2016

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A fire likely started by a candle has displaced at least 50 people, including a dozen children, at an apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland, Saturday. At least one person jumped off a balcony to escape flames, officials said.

The fire started about 4 a.m. in a second-floor apartment in the Flower Branch Apartments complex on Garland Avenue, Montgomery County fire officials said. It's the same complex where a massive explosion killed 7 people in 2016.

The lone occupant of the apartment jumped off a balcony to escape the blaze, according to fire officials.

Authorities said numerous other people were rescued, some pulled off balconies. Photos show ladders leaning against the building and smoke billowing.

No one was reported injured. Smoke alarms were working in the building, officials said.

Dozens of people were forced out of their homes and into sub-freezing temperatures. They went to the Long Branch Library nearby for shelter. At least a dozen were left homeless, officials said.

Hugo Rodriguez and his family were among those who awoke to the emergency and evacuated to the library across the street.

"The people, the child, you know, everybody say, 'Hey get out of here, it's a fire,'" he said.

About 85 firefighters responded, officials said. The fire is still under investigation. Firefighters believe it may have been caused by a candle left burning on a plastic storage bin.

The damage is estimated at $375,000, officials said.

The local Red Cross said it is helping about 50 people to find housing, plus offer food, health services and mental health support.

On Aug. 10, 2016, a massive explosion ripped through the Flower Branch Apartments complex. Two children were among the seven killed. Nearly 40 people were injured in the blast, and at least 80 families were left without homes.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded the explosion stemmed from a gas leak in a utility room housing the complex's meters.

Saturday's fire broke out in a different apartment building than the ones rebuilt after that devastating explosion.

Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.

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