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Condo management responds after months of requests for updates on the Potomac Oaks Condominium explosion

On Nov. 16, 2022, a building at Potomac Oaks Condominium exploded.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — It has been nearly four months since the explosion at Potomac Oaks Condominium in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Editor's Note: This story contains mention of death by suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) – or simply 988. You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

Fourteen people were hurt and Maryland's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified a body pulled from the explosion rubble as 36-year-old Juan Pablo Marshall Quizon. His manner of death was ruled a suicide, and the cause of death was determined to be smoke inhalation and burns. 

On Friday, a spokesperson for Potomac Oaks Condominiums in Gaithersburg, Maryland shared some insight on the status of the buildings that were either damaged or destroyed.

"In response to your inquiry regarding the explosion/fire at buildings 824, 826, 828 and 830, I can offer you the following information.

The owners/residents of the buildings affected by the incident are being provided with weekly updates on reconstruction and unit access. Please note that only those owners/residents in buildings 824, 830 and two units in building 828 are allowed to access their units.  Buildings 826 and 828 (except for the aforementioned units) have been condemned by the city of Gaithersburg, and residents may not access these buildings.  

Due to the time, it takes to demolish and construct two new buildings, it is too early to say when the residents may be able to return to their homes. At this time, we are waiting for the City of Gaithersburg to issue a demolition permit, which we hope to receive by the end of this month.

In terms of security, the buildings have been fenced off with an exterior and interior perimeter fence.  The access gates on the exterior fence have locks on them. In addition, the front doors to the standing buildings have been locked and the ground-floor unit windows and doors have been covered with plywood.  If a resident believes their property was stolen, we encourage them to file a police report." 

This response comes one week after WUSA9 spoke to frustrated residents who've been displaced.

"We found loose syringes all over the place. All the jewelry boxes had been dumped out on the bed and they had taken the time to pick through it," said Jason who lived in Building 826.

He and other residents of buildings 826 and 828 haven't been allowed to go inside their homes since the explosion. But in February, Jason told WUSA9 he'd had enough and went back inside on Saturday hoping to find important documents and family heirlooms.

Instead, he told WUSA9 he found what was left of his belongings thrown all over, some of his family's jewelry and other belongings missing and syringes scattered all over. He shared footage exclusively with WUSA9.

"The closet's been ransacked," said Traci DiMartini, as she looked into her home through binoculars. The wall was blasted open during the explosion.

They also complained about a lack of security for their belongings trapped inside the condemned buildings.

In an e-mail sent to residents, they were told the demolition permit for building 828 needs to be reviewed by the Gaithersburg Historic District Commission.

They were told that once they have both demolition permits, they'll start mobilizing the demolition contractor and preparing for the demolition work. According to the email, that preparation includes installing a temporary electric service behind 826, removal of the tree at 828/T2 and the installation of a temporary driveway from the parking lot to the rear of 828/826 for the demolition equipment.

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