An apparent gas explosion Thursday sent at least 10 people to the hospital, three of them seriously hurt, and caused catastrophic damage to an apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland, authorities said.
Several people are still unaccounted for, officials said.
The resulting two-alarm fire in Silver Spring, a suburb of Washington, was still burning when officials briefed the media shortly after noon.
NBC Washington reported that T.J. Hall, a resident of the Friendly Garden Apartments on the 2400 block of Lyttonsville Road, said he smelled gas before the explosion.
“When I left this morning, I told my grandma, ‘It smells like gas,’” Hall said.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said that upon arrival around 10:30 a.m., crews "immediately went to work on the fire, as well as beginning to locate and remove occupants from the building."
Several people were helped out of the building "before the building became completely consumed by fire and the building collapsed."
Firefighters were still working at midday to extinguish “deep” pockets of fire.
They added that the apartment complex has multiple buildings, all of which have been evacuated and could have sustained serious structural damage.
Three of six buildings have since been deemed unsafe, and 100 people will be displaced, Goldstein said.
NBC Washington reported that a section of the building "is gone — apparently leveled into a pile of blackened, smoldering wreckage."
"The roof is blown off another section, exposing residents’ homes. Chopper4 footage shows debris including personal items, window screens, bed frames, a bathtub and building materials strewn around. The debris extends 50 to 70 feet from the building, Chopper4 reporter Brad Freitas said."