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Officials theorize maintenance work, cut gas pipe may be behind Silver Spring apartment explosion

Seven of those injured have been released from the hospital and seven others remain, three of whom are in serious condition, including a child.

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Officials gave more details into what may have caused an explosion at a Silver Spring apartment building, theorizing that a cut gas pipe may be to blame.

The fiery explosion reduced a Friendly Garden Apartments building to rubble around 11 a.m. Thursday. Residents raced to escape their flame-engulfed building.

Fourteen people were injured in the blast and the following fire with three of them still in serious condition. Seven of those injured have been released from the hospital and seven others remain, three of whom are in serious condition. None of the victims have been identified, but Goldstein confirmed Friday that 12 of the victims were adults and two others were children; one of the children is in serious condition. 

All residents have been accounted for, however, crews continue to look for any evidence that anyone may still be trapped under the rubble, according to Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein.

"We are still working to confirm that there were no visitors or other people in the building at the time of the explosion that are not part of the residents," Goldstein said. 

In a press conference Friday, Goldstein said human remains dogs alerted crews to an area of the demolished building throughout the day. Officials believe someone could be under the rubble in that area. Goldstein said crews will continue to remove debris by hand until reaching dirt in order to rescue or rule out that anyone is underneath the remains of the building. 

Crews are also looking for a missing pet cat that lived in one of the units. 

RELATED: 14 injured, all known residents accounted for after massive Silver Spring apartment fire and explosion

In the moments following the explosion, residents fled the apartment buildings and neighbors banged on doors trying to help others escape. 

Goldstein said many were able to leave on their own and some were rescued by fellow residents. One person escaped the flames by jumping from a second-story window and at least one other person was rescued by fire crews.

Investigators are still working through what remains of the building to figure out what exactly caused the explosion. Goldstein said it could be days before officials have an answer.  

One theory investigators have connects to a maintenance worker who was reportedly on-site doing plumbing when the explosion occurred. 

In the press conference Friday, Goldstein confirmed that crews found a cut gas pipe in the basement of the building that exploded. Investigators continue to search for the source of ignition.

RELATED: Families await updates on those injured in Silver spring apartment explosion

"That is an investigative theory along with several others until we get through all of the debris and a thorough examination of the building," said Goldstein. "We cannot rule out any of our active theories and cannot identify that that was the cause of the explosion.” 

Evidence points to gas fueling the explosion, according to a National Transportation Safety Board official who spoke to WUSA9 reporter Eric Flack Thursday night. However, Investigators have not ruled out any other possible theories. 

RELATED: 'Thank God I'm still here' | Witnesses describe escaping flame-engulfed apartment building after explosion

Goldstein said the blast building was built in 1971 and had no mercury gas meters in the structure. 

Three buildings, including the one that has since collapsed, are now uninhabitable. One hundred and twenty people have been displaced after the explosion and fire, all of whom will need to find a new place to live. 

One hundred twenty five other residents were forced to evacuate after the fire. As of 3 p.m. Friday, Goldstein said power has been restored to the buildings and residents will be allowed to return by 8 p.m.

In the meantime, members of the community are also eager to help residents who are displaced. Montgomery Housing Partners will accept cash donations, 100% of which would be used to provide relief to families as they move forward. 

Donations can be made on MHP's website, which can be found here

RELATED: Here's how to help those displaced by explosion at Friendly Garden Apartments in Silver Spring

WATCH: Explosion at Silver Spring apartment complex caught on camera

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