2 Dead, Many Hurt In Maryland Apartment Blaze

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Washington: At least two people died and dozens, including three firefighters, were injured after an explosion and large fire at an apartment complex in a Maryland suburb of Washington and searchers are looking for up to seven people who were still unaccounted for, authorities said Thursday. Assistant Montgomery County Police Chief Russ Hamill said at a news conference that two people are confirmed dead but have not yet been identified. He said the two people were located in the ruins of the building.

Hamill also said three firefighters with minor injuries were among 34 people taken to local hospitals after the blaze, and were released Thursday. Hamill appealed for all residents of the building to contact authorities as people have still not been accounted for. Firefighters were called to the four-story apartment complex just before midnight Wednesday and found people on upper floors who needed help, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at a briefing.

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“People were dropping children and jumping out of other windows,” Goldstein said. “Everybody was getting out of the building as rapidly as possible.” Goldstein said natural gas furnaces and stoves are in each of the units. It took at least an hour and 45 minutes to put out the blaze and Washington Gas helped safely turn off gas, he said. Residents of nearby buildings that were not affected by the fire were allowed to return to their homes after several hours.

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