BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Ten people have been hospitalized, including three with serious injuries, after a fire and explosion leveled part of a four-story apartment building in Silver Spring, according to Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein.
Speaking about 3:15 p.m., Goldstein said "several" people are unaccounted for, but he did not have a specific number. An estimated 100 people have been displaced.
The explosion and fire occurred about 10:30 a.m. at an apartment complex the 2400 block of Lyttonsville Road, he said.
Firefighters arrived on the scene in time to pull several occupants from inside the building before it "became completely consume by fire" and further collapsed, he said.
Pete Piringer, a public information officer with Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Services, tweeted footage showing a portion of the building had almost completely collapsed.
Three buildings, a total of 40 apartment units, have been declared unsafe to occupy. Residents in those three buildings will be allowed to gather essential belongings from their homes once they're deemed safe, Goldstein said.
Security fencing has been placed around the perimeter, and operations will resume again around sunrise Friday, Piringer said.
T.J. Hall told WUSA he visited his grandmother who lives in the building earlier in the day, and she said she smelled gas and was going to report it.
About an hour later he got a call about the explosion. He arrived back at the complex as his grandmother was being pulled from the wreckage.
"I was scared" coming back, he said through tears. "I still got friends that's stuck in the building right now, and the whole building collapsed and came down."
County Executive Marc Elrich said it was "depressing" and "horrifying" to see the large pile of debris and the shell of a building.
"All you can think of is what happened to the people. Hopefully, they're at work," he said. "If they're at home, you got to ask yourself, 'What happened to them?'"
He noted the complex contains affordable housing units.
"These aren't people who have the wherewithal to pick up and just say, 'Hey, I'll go on with my life,'" he said. "This is going to be a real serious impact."
The county is offering emotional and mental health support for families impacted by the blast, as well as temporary housing in hotels and shelters, Elrich said. Any other families displaced by the incident are asked to report to the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Recreation Center.
County officials have been in touch with a neighboring housing complex about finding permanent housing for some displaced families, Elrich said.
Montgomery Housing Partnership, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing in the county, is collecting donations for families affected by the fire.
In 2016, an explosion and fire blasted apart the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, killing seven residents when a large section of the building gave way beneath their feet.
About 50 people were displaced.
Investigators in Montgomery County said a natural gas leak caused the deadly fire and explosion.
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