Body found in rubble of Maryland home that exploded, officials say

Huge Explosion Levels House in Rockville Maryland

County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said the man's body was found at about noon Saturday inside the basement area of the home alongside "a domestic animal". "There's not anything left of the house", he told reporters. "There is collateral damage to several nearby homes". Investigators and search and rescue dogs were on the scene at daybreak.

"It's just a pile of bricks".

Fire officials say they are aware of reports from neighbors that say ammunition and firearms were kept in the house.

Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service, described the damage to the house as "catastrophic".

People wrote on Facebook that they heard the explosion miles away.

Neighbors told local media that the blast shook them from their sleep, and reminded them of the 2011 quake that struck the area.

"I could feel it underground", she said. "We immediately got up and started wondering what was happening", Ricci said.

Ricci saw flames from her backyard after she went outside to see what was going on.

"There is no concern about a gas involvement in this explosion", Goldstein said.

Several frantic calls were made to 911, which brought 75 firefighters.

"The status of the occupant is unknown", he said, adding authorities had no further information. He added that investigators will check the rubble during the day to try to pinpoint what had happened.

"It's too early in the investigation to identify if there is something that contributed that was gas-related", he said. In that case, investigators attributed the blast to a gas leak when residents attempted to convert a clothes dryer from gas to electric. Fire and utility officials also went door to door asking neighbors to leave for their safety, displacing a number of area residents. Yellow police tape cordoned off the site.

This isn't the first time the Randolph Hills neighborhood has experienced the concussion of a house explosion. Then, starting in December 2016, the utility company had noticed unauthorized use of gas in the home, Goldstein and Washington Gas officials said.

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