WASHINGTON — Following a Wednesday night explosion and three-alarm fire at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, that killed two people and injured dozens more, about 100 residents of the two four-story apartment buildings have been displaced.
County officials stress residents will face a long recovery ahead.
CASA de Maryland said it needs volunteers to help sort through donations. Volunteers looking to help can show up at the Silver Spring center Friday until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you can volunteer as a Spanish or French interpreter for affected families, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uma Ahluwalia, the director of Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services, during a Thursday morning news conference, said there is no longer an immediate need for donated goods, such as food, water or diapers.
Instead, she encouraged people to donate cash or gift cards through the Montgomery Housing Partnership.
The county is accepting cash donations through the Montgomery Housing Partnership. Donations can be made online at www.MHPartners.org.
Checks should be mailed to the following location:
Montgomery Housing Partnership
(Attn: Long Branch Fire)
12200 Tech Road, Suite 250
Silver Spring, Md. 20904
(Be sure to write “Long Branch Fire” on the check memo’s line)
In addition, the Takoma Police Department is collecting donations for families displaced by the fire. The department is focused on collecting children’s clothing, shoes and school supplies. Donated items can be dropped off in the police department’s lobby at 7500 Maple Ave. in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot said his office will offer help to residents of the apartments affected by last week’s deadly explosion and fire.
Franchot’s office said any resident of the apartment complex who may not be able to pay their tax obligations on time, or pay the right amount can call his office so that alternative arrangements can be made.
Anyone looking for assistance should call Special Assistant Mariela Cruz at 410-260-4020. Residents who need help can also email email@example.com
Temporary Red Cross shelter
Montgomery County and the Red Cross have established a shelter at the nearby Long Branch Community Center (8700 Piney Branch Rd.) to provide meals for displaced residents and register them for benefits, said Ahluwalia during a Thursday morning news conference.
“I really want to stress that people should not be afraid to come,” Ahluwalia said, saying a bilingual staff is on site to help residents. “If there are multiple households living in a unit, every single one of them is eligible for support and assistance for relocation.”
As of Friday afternoon, the Red Cross said about 200 people were staying in the shelter.
Montgomery County Public Libraries Long Branch is providing services to support residents who lost their homes and personal belongings. The Long Branch Library is located (8800 Garland Ave. in Silver Spring). The library is open until 8 p.m. Friday and will reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The Library offers:
Spanish speakers on staff
Computers and laptops for work and personal use
Free fast Wi-Fi
Books, toys, and games
Additionally, the Library staff will provide library resources and materials to residents who are staying at the emergency shelter established at the Long Branch Community Recreation Center.
Access to medications
Residents who need immediate access to medications can visit the CASA Clinic at 8615 Piney Branch Rd. or the Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care at 8709 Flower Ave. for “ad hoc medical treatment,” or access to medications, Ahluwalia said.