On the night of August 10, natural gas built up in a basement utility room at an apartment complex in Silver Springs, Maryland, leading to an explosion and fire that killed seven people. Several others were injured as they jumped from balconies or descended down burning, crumbling staircases.
Investigators are still working to unravel what caused the disaster, but say the explosion was caused by a gas leak in the meter room of the building that built up until the explosion was sparked. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a complete investigation is ongoing and expected to continue into next year.
In the meantime, more lawsuits have been filed alleging that blame rests with the company that managed the complex and the utility that supplied it with natural gas. According to the lawsuits, both defendants had been warned “on several occasions” about the smell of gas in apartments in the summer months before the tragedy. “Defendants deliberately disregarded the danger to the property’s residents, and undertook no steps to repair the condition,” say the new lawsuits. The suits contend that the gas company failed to ensure the security of residents by not: repairing the gas leak, properly investigating and identifying the gas leak, warning residents, and/or calling for an evacuation. The suit also claims that the utility failed to perform routine inspections that would have uncovered the potential dangers and saved the lives and property of residents.