A few families still waiting for word on loved ones following apartment blast

Silver Spring, Md. — With still no definitive word on how many people may have been lost in an apartment building explosion late Wednesday night there’s no way to tell how many families are still waiting in agony to be reunited with loved ones.

The blast at the Flower Garden Apartments on Piney Branch Road killed at least two people. It’s not clear how many still remain missing.

On Thursday night, firefighters said they would suspend recovery efforts until Friday morning due to the instability of the building following the explosion.

The launch of a reunion center by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services at Rolling Terrace Elementary School only drew 10 families Thursday afternoon.

DHHS leaders believe that’s because many people who were originally considered missing in the aftermath of the fire were able to find each other at a temporary shelter set up for about 100 displaced people at the Long Branch Community Center.

For loved ones missing Cesar Jimenez and Maria Castellon they tried the hospitals, the reunion center and the temporary shelter. They returned to the couple’s apartment at the Piney Branch apartments Thursday afternoon to get as close as they could to the damaged building and await word.

“You don't know anything,” said Silvia Vierra, a family friend helping the missing man’s brother and son in their time of grief. “You don't know if they're alive or what happened— if they're still in there.”

“There’s nothing to do but sit here and wait and it’s hard because it’s my father and his  wife,” said Eric Jimenez. “We’re waiting for a good end.”

DHHS leaders for Montgomery County said the easiest way to find a lost loved one who may be in the hospital or elsewhere because of this fire is through the county’s 311 system to see if that person has reached out to local authorities for help though they said they will keep the reunion center open through Friday as well.