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Group working to distribute donations to Silver Spring explosion victims

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators and fire investigators sift through debris and ash at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, Md. on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A group working with Montgomery County to raise money for victims who lost everything in an explosion at an apartment complex has begun the process of distributing donations to those in need.

“We have received over $400,000 in donations,” said Ilana Branda, the policy and neighborhood development manager at Montgomery Housing Partnership.

“We’ve had kids doing lemonade stands to corporations and businesses doing fundraisers and everything in between,” she said.  “It’s really a tremendous outpouring from the community.”

The nonprofit Montgomery Housing Partnership has been raising money for 55 families that were displaced in the incident.

Seven people died and more than 30 were injured in the explosion Aug. 10 at the Flower Branch Apartments, in Silver Spring. Authorities say it was a natural gas explosion, but the investigation into what ignited the gas is ongoing.

“We are starting to get money out to the families and will continue to do such as the money comes in,” Branda said.

Montgomery Housing Partnership is focused on the immediate and long-term needs of the victims, helping families who lost loved ones cover funeral-related costs and replacing items such as car keys and important documents.

“A lot of individuals lost passports, IDs and visas,” Branda explained.

Eventually, every family that was displaced will have the opportunity to collect a chunk of cash. The group is still working out the exact amounts of money that will be offered.

“We’ve been working to help all of them,” said Branda.

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