Resident who died by suicide blamed in Maryland apartment explosion, fire that injured 14 people, police say


A resident of an apartment likely caused a explosion and fire that injured 14 people and destroyed part of an apartment building in Maryland when he took his own life, authorities said on Friday.

A 36-year-old man was identified Friday by the Montgomery County Police Department as the person “responsible for the explosion.” It said.

His manner of death was suicide, Police Chief Marcus G. Jones said at a news conference Friday.

“He made statements that indicated suicidal intentions,” Jones said, basing his conclusion on witnesses who knew the resident.

Injuries, partial collapse and other fire-related damage Wednesday at the Potomac Oaks Condominium complex in Gaithersburg, about 20 miles north of Washington, DC, were likely unintentional, police said.

Jones said there was no information that led them to believe the man “intended for others to be harmed or injured in this particular incident.”

The man’s body was found amid the rubble on Wednesday after investigators focused on his unit. At a news conference Thursday, County Fire Chief Scott E. Goldstein called his unit “our focus apartment,” but he didn’t say why.

Similarly, officials have not explained how a suicide could have resulted in an explosion and fire. Fourteen people were injured, treated in hospitals and released, authorities said.

The man had been missing after the fire on Wednesday morning, but those reporting him were unaware that he was the “owner of this apartment, this condo, this place,” Jones said.

The man took possession in August, the chief said, and the reason those who knew him had no idea of ​​the purchase was part of the ongoing investigation into the blast.

Had he survived, the resident likely would have faced a criminal investigation given the injuries and property damage from the explosion and fire, Jones said.

The blast was reported around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, firefighters said. Residents reportedly sought safety on the balconies, Montgomery County Fire and Lifesaving Assistant Chief Daniel Ogren said.

Video obtained by Baltimore NBC WBAL Affiliate showed raging flames shooting from the colonial-style brick-fronted building. Cries of “get out” were heard as the fire raged.

County Executive Marc Elrich said all residents of 24 units were displaced by the blast and fire. WBAL reported that 47 people have registered with the county as displaced persons.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

Associated Press contributed.

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