Official: Explosion destroys home in D.C. suburb

Associated Press

Rockville, Md. — A house in a Maryland suburb of the nation’s capital was leveled early Friday by a thunderous explosion heard for miles around, the blast shattering windows and causing other damage to several neighboring homes, authorities said.

The explosion rocked the sleepy Washington, D.C., bedroom community of Rockville about 1 a.m. and scattered debris widely through a neighborhood just north of the capital, an official said.

Authorities said they had no reports of any injuries but neighbors said a man lived in the home and investigators did not know the man’s immediate status or if the house was occupied at the time.

“It’s just a pile of debris; it’s just a pile of bricks. There’s not anything left of the house,” said Pete Piringer, chief spokesman for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service. “I’ve heard there were calls from miles away, people calling.”

He described the home damage as “catastrophic” and added at least a dozen other homes were damaged because of the “large debris field” from the blast. Investigators were just beginning to probe the rubble, he added, noting a cause of the blast had not yet been determined.

Piringer spoke by phone from the scene in a neighborhood of Rockville, where about 75 firefighters took about 20 minutes to put out the fire in the rubble.

“The status of the occupant is unknown,” he said, adding authorities had no further information. But he said investigators would be exhaustively checking the rubble in daylight hours and trying to determine what happened.

Piringer also said there were no reports of any gas leaks before the blast but he said a gas explosion was one possibility that has not been ruled out initially.

He added that gas and power company workers have since gone to turn off utilities at the home and nearby as a safety precaution. As a safety precaution, fire and utility officials also went door to door asking neighbors to leave the area, displacing a number of local residents.

“There is collateral damage to several nearby homes,” he said.