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Federal Investigators Provide Insight into Fatal Silver Spring Apartment Explosion

By: Joseph Cammarata

A preliminary report released this past Tuesday shows federal investigators found a disconnected vent pipe in the meter room where natural gas built up prior to a fatal explosion at a Silver Spring apartment complex last year. According to the report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), together with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), it still remains unclear as to who was responsible for disconnecting the pipe, and why.

The August 10, 2016 explosion and fire at Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, MD killed seven victims, injured over 30 others, and displaced more than 100 residents who were forced to flee their homes in a chaotic and frightening event. Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. represents victims who were injured and / or displaced by the explosion, and has thus far filed lawsuits on behalf of several victims affected by this tragedy.

Washington, DC Personal Injury LawyerWhile several facts have come to light following the explosion – including the known gas leak, resident complaints of smelling gas, and the complex’s management company (Kay Management) being cited for storing combustible material in the meter room a few months prior – the report does shed further light into the ongoing investigation:

  • ATF and NTSB officials will be conducting further testing to determine the source of the natural gas leak. This includes further investigation into the disconnected vent pipe and gas lines feeding into regulators housed in the meter room, which were extensively damaged by the blast.
  • Although Kay Management said that an inspection two days before the explosion noted that the meter room had no items or equipment within 15 feet of the meters, NTSB investigators reported that the visit was undocumented and that Kay Management provided no reason for why the inspection was made just days before the incident.
  • Kay Management spokespeople have stated that the vent pipe which investigators found disconnected was owned and maintained by Washington Gas.

In the lawsuits our firm has filed on behalf of victims, Flower Branch Apartments, Key Management Co., and Washington Gas were named as defendants for failing to take reasonable measures to address the gas leak, which had prompted multiple complaints from residents on various occasions. Although investigations are still pending, there remains compelling evidence as to how these parties did not address a known hazard, and failed in their legal duty to keep residents safe.

Under premises liability laws, property owners can be held accountable when hazardous conditions on their property cause preventable harm, particularly when they knew, or should have known, about those hazards. Had the meter room been adequately inspected and complaints properly addressed, we allege in the lawsuits, this tragedy more likely than not could have been prevented.

As the investigation continues, our legal team intends to leverage our experience to help victims protect their right to justice and compensation for their damages, which include their physical, financial, and emotional injuries, and damages associated with losing their homes and irreplaceable personal items. Our firm is readily available to help other victims and families who may have been affected by this tragedy.

To discuss your rights and how our firm can help, contact us for a free consultation.