Statement to Mark the Five-Year Anniversary of Fatal Flower Branch Apartments Explosion

Per Montgomery County:

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Council President Tom Hucker and Councilmember Nancy Navarro released the following statement in recognition of the five-year anniversary of the explosion at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring:

“Five years ago, we had a tragic incident take place in our community which took the lives of seven residents and injured and displaced dozens more. We will never forget seeing the devastation caused by the explosion and the impact it had on the community.

“Out of this tragedy, we pushed for an improved way to respond to the unique needs of this multicultural and multilingual community by requesting then-County Executive Leggett to deploy multilingual County employees to the temporary shelter that was stood up, including that his Public Information Office engage in real time crisis communications; ensuring simultaneous translation was available during community meetings; and leveraging community partnerships to target resources in order to holistically serve the immediate needs of this community.

“Since then, we have worked closely with the community, elected officials and stakeholders to ensure we put policies in place that protect the well being and lives of tenants.

“Several years after the explosion and a lengthy investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the failure of an indoor mercury service regulator contributed to the explosion.

“Led by Council President Hucker, the Council unanimously voted to pass Bill 50-20, the Mercury Service Regulator bill, in June, which aims to prevent injuries and deaths like those caused by the fatal explosion at the Flower Branch apartments in 2016 and fix an issue that should have been fixed years ago. The legislation requires landlords to identify and report indoor mercury service regulators.

“We also commend our colleagues in Annapolis, led by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, for taking steps to enact similar measures at the state level this year. Let’s not forget — not only does today mark five years since the horrible explosion at the Flower Branch apartments, it also marks one year since the deadly gas explosion at a Baltimore row home, which left two dead and several injured.

“That is why HB345, also known as the Flower Branch Act, is so critical. The statewide legislation will require new gas service regulators be installed on the outside of buildings and require existing regulators in multifamily units be relocated outside, among other protections.

“Today serves as a reminder of the importance of tenant protections and robust oversight of multifamily units and apartment complexes. We want to express our condolences to the families that lost loved ones and stand in solidarity with the community as we continue our work to enhance tenant protections and housing safety measures, both here in Montgomery County and statewide.”

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