According to the Washington Post, in addition to the two confirmed deaths, at least 34 people have been injured and roughly 100 people have been displaced due to the explosion. Authorities are also searching for several people who remain unaccounted for.
The explosion occurred along Arliss Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, but people reported feeling the massive explosion two miles away. Glass, clothing, and doors were found hundreds of feet away from the burning building.
It is believed that the explosion was causes by a natural gas leak; however, authorities are still investigating the incident.
Gas explosions can occur when volatile gases mix with the air and reach a critical point between the Low Explosion Limit (LEL) and the High Explosion Limit (HEL). Once in this range, any sufficient heat source can ignite the mixture.
Once ignited, the gas expands rapidly until a portion of whatever is confining the gas gives. The result of the sudden release of pressure is a loud, violent explosion.
Among the leading causes of gas explosions are: