- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2003

Most of the residents driven from their Tacoma Park high-rise apartments by a weekend explosion were expected to return to their homes last night.

Investigators said the explosion Saturday in a 10th floor laundry of the Belford Towers was caused by a gas leak and ruled an accident.

The damage is expected to exceed $50,000, said an apartment employee who declined to give her name. The most serious injury reported was to a 13-year-old girl who was hit by flying debris. She was treated at a hospital and released.

Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire Department, said the pleasant weather meant many of the tenants of the 144 apartments were outdoors, which helped minimize the injuries.

Firefighters took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire in the 12-story building in the 6700 block of New Hampshire Avenue.

“I was here and wondered what it was,” said a male apartments office worker, who asked not to be identified. “It blew in the wall of a next door, vacant apartment. Its impact moved the walls. People couldn’t open their doors.”

Residents living in the top seven floors were not allowed to return to their apartment until last evening, about 30 hours after the explosion. However, residents in four apartments on the 10th floor had not been allowed to return as of Sunday evening.

The Red Cross, friends and relatives assisted those who could not return to apartments.

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