The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Silver Spring, Maryland:
Apartment Gas Explosion

Apr 11, 2022

A massive gas explosion devastated 41 apartments on March 3 in the Friendly Gardens apartment complex in Lyttonsville in Silver Spring, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. Only because most residents had already left for work or school did nobody die. But 124 adults and 36 children were displaced, and three of the six buildings were ruined.

A Quaker congregation from D.C. built the 85 apartments in 1971 to provide affordable housing in Lyttonsville. The historically black town was founded by people formerly enslaved on Montgomery County plantations, and was surrounded by towns that prohibited black renters or homeowners. Now the apartments house many African immigrants as well.

The explosion happened because gas built up in one building when a maintenance worker trying to fix a clogged drain cut through a one-and-a-half-inch gas pipe that was undistinguishable from the water pipes. He snaked the pipe and capped it, but the three-story building had become a bomb. Someone somewhere sparked a fire .…

In over 50 years of maintenance, no one spent time to mark the gas pipe so people could tell it apart from the water pipes. Not even when all the units were renovated for over two million dollars six years ago.

There are thick gas pipes like this in thousands of apartment buildings everywhere. Many are unmarked. They are all bombs waiting to explode.