Explosion destroys home in Washington, D.C., suburb

A house in a Maryland suburb of the nation's capital was leveled before dawn Friday by a thunderous explosion heard for miles around, shattering windows and damaging several nearby homes, authorities said.

The explosion rocked the sleepy Washington, D.C., bedroom community of Rockville about 1 a.m. and scattered debris widely, an official said.

Authorities said they had no reports of any injuries but neighbors said a man lived in the home and investigators did not know his status or if the house was occupied at the time of the blast.

A Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman described the home damage as “catastrophic” and added the cause of the blast has not been determined.

“It's just a pile of debris; it's just a pile of bricks. There's not anything left of the house,” said the agency's chief spokesman, Pete Piringer, speaking with the Associated Press from the scene. “I've heard there were calls from miles away, people calling.”

He said the explosion in the community just north of the nation's capital left a “large debris field” with windows broken in several houses all around.

Piringer said the blast scattered debris widely in a neighborhood of Rockville, a community north of the nation's capital. About 75 firefighters rushed to the scene and put out a fire in the rubble in about 20 minutes, he added.

“The status of the occupant is unknown,” he said, adding that authorities had no further information. But he said investigators would be exhaustively checking the rubble after daybreak.

Piringer also said there were no reports of any gas leaks before the blast. He added that gas and power company workers have since gone to turn off utilities at the home and nearby as a safety precaution.

Several neighbors were displaced because of the damage, Piringer said.

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