Recent home explosions cause homeless victims and scared citizens


Photo courtesy of sf-dvs (CCL)

Fires spread quickly, especially in apartments where dozens of people live. The fire took hours to be put out due to the gas explosion in the Potomac Oaks Condominium and the fire spread fast and injured over 12 people and killed one person.

By Cecilia Bernstein, Photo Manager

Maryland has had a pattern of explosions happening in the past few years, and the pattern has continued with another recent explosion which caused a deadly fire in Montgomery County. On Nov. 16, the residents of the Potomac Oaks Condominium were forced to evacuate their homes due to a fire. More than 14 people were injured in the incident, and now dozens of residents have been left homeless. Following this recent tragedy, questions are being raised as to why this strange and dangerous pattern continues across the state. 

This explosion has not even been the only one in the county this year. In March of 2022, the Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring exploded due to a worker accidentally cutting a gas line. Although no residents were critically injured, county residents have valid questions about these recurring events.

“The Gaithersburg explosion was certainly very tragic,” WCHS freshman Maggie Sagan said. “I just do not understand how it keeps happening.”

County officials have determined the incident in Gaitherburg to have been started from a suicide by 36 year old Juan Pablo Marshall Quizon, who was the only death in this fire. The dozens of nearby residents who were left homeless were able to return to their homes after a few days, but the event really hit the community hard.

“It makes me feel upset that all of these homeowners were left on the streets for a few days because of something they did not cause,” WCHS sophomore Aleeza Ali said. “It was probably super hard for them to go back after because they probably did not feel safe.”

Over the past two years, Maryland has seen numerous other fires with a variety of different causes. Anne Arundel County, Harford County and Baltimore County have all had explosions that have devastated their communities as well.

“There needs to be a change in big workplaces, streets, and apartment buildings,” Sagan said. “Whether it is checking buildings for damage once in a while, minimizing the use of flammable materials, or anything else, these can be prevented.”

According to Statista, there were 984 reported explosions in the U.S. in 2020, an increase from 2019 by around 269 incidents. The numbers of reported incidents in the country took a big dip from 2012-2015, but then increased dramatically in years following.

“It’s shocking to think about how many explosions there are just in the United States alone,” Ali said. “I hear about them in the news a lot but hearing that there were over 900 in 2020 is crazy.”

While most WCHS students haven’t been personally affected by the explosions in other parts of the state, it is still alarming for many students that these incidents are happening in areas in close proximity to them.

“Honestly, I’m worried that there will be a fire that happens to me or someone I care about,” Ali said. “There’ve been too many explosions near me and it feels unsafe.”

While the Potomac Oaks Condominium community has started to recover, the lives of its residents will most likely never be the same.

“Hopefully, this is a wakeup call for government officials to take action with these explosions,” Sagan said. “Lives can not keep being taken from the community by an easily preventable event.”