Silver Spring

Some Residents Return to Devastated Homes After Blast at Silver Spring Apartments

Like more than a hundred of her neighbors, resident Karen Franklin said she’s “not certain what the future holds at this moment.”

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As an investigation into an explosion at a Silver Spring apartment complex continues, some residents saw their devastated homes for the first time Saturday.

While on a walk, Karen Franklin, a resident of Friendly Garden Apartments, stops just steps away from her home. She’s got to wait.

“[I'm] waiting for answers, waiting for clearance, waiting for a time when I can get back into my place and access the damage,” Franklin said. 

She hasn’t been home since she left for work Thursday and returned to find her ground floor apartment and its contents beneath a pile of charred rubble after an explosion. 

As heavy equipment clears the biggest portions of what’s left of 2405 Lyttonsville Road, investigators will do a hand search of the pile. 

Dogs trained to search for human remains gave “possible indications of alerts” on Thursday.

“Until we get down to the dirt beneath any of the debris, we will be considering that we have a victim,” Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said.

It’s possible that the dogs are picking up on people’s clothing or personal items, not human remains, he added. 

So far, investigators believe everyone is accounted for, but want to be sure there were no passersby near the building, or guests who were there but not on anyone’s lease when the structure exploded.

On Friday, a theory emerged about a possible cause. 

"We have located a cut gas pipe in the basement," Goldstein said. "We are continuing to work to determine the source of ignition."

Sources close to the investigation say a hospitalized maintenance worker told investigators he was making a plumbing repair in the basement Thursday morning and that he had cut a line. He was surprised when no water came out, and went upstairs to an apartment to troubleshoot the plumbing problem shortly before the explosion.

Meanwhile, Franklin’s walk home ended at the fence that surrounds what’s left of her home.

“Just to see it reduced to rubble - this is super painful right now, super painful,” she said. 

But she also feels pain for her neighbors, some of whom are still hospitalized. 

Franklin has a place to stay, for now. But like more than a hundred of her neighbors, she said she’s “not sure what the future holds at this moment.”

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