Gas leak caused Rockville house explosion

Photo: Courtney Robinson/ABC7

The cause of an explosion that completely leveled a Montgomery County house and hospitalized its two inhabitants is becoming clear. Fire officials said the man who lived in the Rockville house disconnected a gas line Tuesday without shutting off the gas.

The man told investigators he and his wife moved into the home Sunday. Last night, he changed from a gas clothes dryer to an electric model. When he did that, he disconnected a gas line without shutting off the gas. The couple went to sleep apparently unaware the basement was filling with explosive natural gas.

“We believe that this gas was leaking throughout the night. At some point it found and ignition source and the home exploded shortly before 3 a.m.,” said Capt. Oscar Garcia.
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the explosion caused $130,000 in damage.

Prince William County Police said the origin and cause of the explosion are under investigation. Earlier reports had pointed to a gas-related issue. The gas was secured and the gas company was called to the scene, police said.

Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham says a man and a woman were blown out of the home during the explosion about 3 a.m. Wednesday in the 11200 block of Ashley Drive. He said they were found in the debris by firefighters.

Ned Mihaylov lives next door and said his home was rattled and peppered with fragments. He was shaken when he saw the man who lived in the house staggering around the wreckage, looking for his wife.

“He was hurt,” Mikaylov said. “I saw him bleeding but he wouldn't stop looking for his wife.”
He said he ran outside and almost found the woman trapped beneath rubble.

The woman is in serious condition with life-threatening injuries and the man was also hospitalized in serious condition. Both were taken to local burn unit. The two victims were in bed at the time of the blast, but no one else was in the home. No other injuries were reported.

Officials say the victims had just moved into the house this past Saturday. Fire & EMS officials say that the explosion likely came from inside the home. Washington Gas is inspecting nearby lines to make sure they're secure.

Graham says debris was scattered in trees, standing about 35 feet tall, and extended as far as 50 yards from where the home once stood. The explosion caused serious damage to neighboring homes and downed trees and power lines in the area.
This was a pretty impressive explosion, Graham said. A "massive" one.

Neighbors tell ABC7 the blast shook them awake. “I live about a mile and a half away. It woke me up,” said Garth Eisehard.

A number of cars parked in the area have been relocated and the scene is taped off, but Graham says the area is secure.