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Explosion In Montgomery County Multifamily Building Was Caused By Suicide, Police Say

The scene of the fire at Potomac Oaks condominiums in Gaithersburg, Maryland

UPDATE, NOV. 18, 7:15 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to include updates from the investigation into the cause of the explosion.

A condominium complex in Gaithersburg, Maryland, exploded and caught fire Wednesday morning, leading to multiple injuries and evacuations.

A building on the 800 block of Quince Orchard Boulevard exploded at roughly 8:40 a.m. Wednesday. When firefighters arrived, the buildings at 826 and 828 Quince Orchard, part of the Potomac Oaks condominium complex, were damaged by the fire, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters were attempting to quell a gas-fed fire in the basement hours after the initial blaze was extinguished. The gas has since been shut off, though hot spots may remained for several hours, Goldstein said.

At least 12 people were injured in the blast, including two critically, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Pete Piringer tweeted at about 1:30 p.m.

About 50 to 75 people have been displaced as a result of the incident, Goldstein said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said at a press conference that a man had been found dead in the rubble. The police department opened an investigation into the fire as a criminal act, and said they now believe the deceased, 36-year-old Juan Pablo Marshall Quizon, died by suicide, MyMCM reported.

Jones said he had no information that would lead him to believe Quizon intended to cause harm to the residents or damage to the building.

This is the second residential building to explode in Montgomery County this year. In March, a Silver Spring building that was behind on its fire inspections exploded and caught fire, injuring more than a dozen people and displacing dozens more. 

Goldstein said building explosions tend to occur in the broader D.C. region once a year, and in Montgomery County every five or six years. The last residential building explosion in the county prior to the Silver Spring incident occurred in 2016.