UPDATE: Local authorities rule death of man found in house explosion site a suicide

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Rockville house explosion 1Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service responded Friday to a home explosion on Ashley Drive in Rockville. The bodies of a man and a dog were found Saturday. FILE PHOTO

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Fire chief said investigators from Montgomery County Police, Fire and Rescue, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms Bureau continue to investigate the cause of Friday’s house explosion where investigators found the remains of a man and his dog. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the man’s death a suicide.


County hears more on fatal fire

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Silver Spring fire 8-11-16An internal audit was held on the County's response to the Flower Branch Apartments fire that killed seven and displaced over 100 people last August. FILE PHOTO  

During their internal audit about the County’s response to the fire at Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring that killed seven and displaced more than 100 people last August, County officials did not interview victims from the fire.

At last week’s council meeting, officials from several County agencies briefed the Council on an internal audit of the County’s response in providing services in the immediate aftermath of the fire. The audit listed several recommendations for the County, including a need for better communication between County staff.

Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) said the audit was disappointing and criticized County officials for not interviewing the victims of the fire who received the County’s services.

“It seems strange to me, as an approach, that you would just talk to County agencies and the non-profits we fund, but not the actual victims,” Hucker said.


Language barriers found in wake of fatal fire

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Silver Spring fire 8-11-16County Council members were briefed on language barriers that hampered firefighters and other personnel during the fire at the Flower Branch Apartments. FILE PHOTO

A County review of the aftermath from a gas-fed fire that killed seven at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring revealed a language barrier between County officials and tenants.

Many of the tenants are immigrants from Latin America who spoke Spanish as their primary language. They had trouble communicating with firefighters and other County personnel in the immediate aftermath and days following the fire.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, Director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Earl Stoddard and the Chief Administrative Officer for Montgomery County, Tim Firestine briefed County Council members Sept. 27.

“That’s a gap, that ought to be addressed,” said Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) about the language barrier between County staff and the victims of the fire.

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