Families and residents displaced because of a fire and explosion at a Silver Spring-area apartment complex have received more than $70,000 out of a collection fund, county officials said.
County Executive Marc Elrich told reporters during a weekly briefing on Wednesday that a fund set up by Montgomery Housing Partnership has raised more than $480,000 for displaced families.
Raymond Crowel, the director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said earlier this week that 41 apartment units in the complex were affected by the explosion, displacing 124 adults and 36 children.
Patrick Campbell, the senior emergency manager for mass care and recovery within the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday that some displaced families will likely move to Paddington Square Apartments, across the street from Friendly Garden Apartments on Lyttonsville Road, where the explosion occurred.
Most affected families want to stay inside the Capital Beltway, Campbell said. One challenge will be finding affordable apartment units for them.
The explosion occurred on Thursday morning at the 2405 building at Friendly Garden Apartments, leading to a huge fire and leveling the entire structure except for one wall.
County officials have said a maintenance worker was working on a drainage clog and mistakenly cut a gas pipe instead of a waste drain pipe — resulting in a flash fire in an apartment right above, then the larger explosion and fire.
Two hundred twenty-five people were initially displaced from the complex, and 14 people were hospitalized. Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the county’s Fire and Rescue Service, wrote in a text message Wednesday that at least one person remained hospitalized due to the explosion and fire.
“The other [person] had a medical condition unrelated to the fire and explosion, not sure the status of that person and wouldn’t necessarily be notified one way or another on their status,” Piringer wrote.
ResidentialONE — the property management company for Friendly Garden Apartments — said in a statement on Tuesday night that all residents in the three buildings that were not affected have returned to their homes.
ResidentialONE has not responded to multiple emails and calls from Bethesda Beat seeking comment.
Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard told reporters that a structural engineer will be at Friendly Garden Apartments on Thursday to determine if the two adjacent buildings, 2401 and 2411, are habitable.
If all three buildings are not habitable, that would mean finding new homes for tenants of up to 42 apartments, instead of just 14 at the 2405 building, Stoddard said.
Campbell said ResidentialONE has reimbursed most, if not all, of the residents for their latest rental payments and security deposits.
ResidentialONE’s statement also says:
“We are still actively working with county officials, housing authorities, and service organizations to ensure that our residents and staff members receive the care and support they need. All of us at ResidentialONE are grateful to the first responders, Montgomery County officials, housing authorities and members of the community for their continuing assistance to our residents impacted by the event.”
Staff writer Dan Schere contributed to this report.
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