SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — It’s been nearly five years since tragedy struck Silver Spring when seven people died in an explosion at the Flower Branch apartment complex in 2016. Years later, officials in Montgomery County are working to prevent similar tragedies from unfolding in the future.
Kieran Prospe has been a tenant at Flower Branch since 2013, he remembers the 2016 explosion well. He spoke with WDVM’s Randi Bass in a one-on-one interview outside of his apartment on Wednesday.
“I heard people screaming. I saw a couple of people jump from the building. People were trying to help people get out of the building. It was a total disaster,” he recalled.
Memories of that tragic summer evening still haunt residents at Flower Branch nearly five years later.
“My wife, she had to be in therapy. She couldn’t sleep. There are still families and residents who are traumatized about this,” said Prospere.
He says it was a disaster that could have been prevented. Months before the explosion, he says residents reported the smell of natural gas to authorities and utility providers, and residents weren’t “always taken seriously when they made those reports.”
A year-long investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board says a faulty Washington Gas mercury service regulator caused that explosion, killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
New legislation in Montgomery County would require the removal and replacement of old gas regulators.
“It’s a perfect function of government to bring together these two stakeholders and their communities and make them talk to each other. The landlords are disclosing the presence of these meters and Washington Gas is fixing them ina timely manner,” said Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker.
Prospe testified in favor of the bill at a public hearing this week. He says the passage of this bill would be a “major victory” for not only Flower Branch, but tenants across Montgomery County.
“This will be a good first step toward relieving the pain and suffering. It will save lives. People will be able to sleep better knowing they don’t have to worry about those [regulators] inside the house,” said Prospere.