MCFRS News Release

Car Hits Building Causing Explosion and Fire

One Rockville Resident Seriously Injured – $1.8 million in Damage
City of Rockville Police Charge Driver

Around 9:15 a.m. on Monday, December 4, 2006 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) were dispatched for a report of a car crashing into a building in the 200 block of Congressional Lane, in Rockville. Additional 911 calls indicated that when striking the building, the car crashed into a (natural) gas meter resulting in an explosion and fire. Several persons were injured and dozens may be displaced.

First arriving fire and rescue personnel encountered heavy fire conditions. Units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Hazardous Incident Response Team responded along with numerous other fire and rescue units due to the initial report of a significant natural gas leak, explosion and fire. Eventually three (3) Alarms, over 125 firefighters and emergency medical personnel responded to the scene of the townhouse community at Rollins Park. City of Rockville Police as well as gas and electric utilities assisted.

It is believed that a car driven by Katalin Budi , age 26, of Rockville, for what ever reason left a driveway leading to the Congressional Towers Apartments, jumped a curb, knocked down a small ‘no parking’ sign, crossed an grassy lawn area, narrowly missed a tree and struck the building exactly where a gas meter was located. Investigators believe the driver may have had a seizure or other medical condition resulting in her losing control. As a result of the collision, MCFRS Fire and Explosive Investigators believed natural gas was free flowing for several minutes all-the-while saturating the building with natural gas.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Fire and Explosive Investigators believe that after hearing the crash and smelling gas, several residents, including Mr. Biswajit Das exited the building to investigate. His wife, Dolanchanpa Ghosh-Das and their 28-month old child watched from the townhouse doorway. Mr. Das rendered aid to the stricken driver of the late model BMW sports utility vehicle (SUV).

He and others called 911. Moments later a significant explosion and fire occurred. His actions are believed to be possibly life-saving. At the same time, the force of the explosion knocked Mrs. Ghosh-Das and her child off their feet and threw them from the building. Witnesses believe they landed about 25 feet away from the building. The fire quickly grew in intensity aided by the leaking natural gas and a strong wind.

Mr. Das was able to assist the dazed driver from the vehicle. Neither suffered serious injury. Mrs. Ghosh-Das was struck by falling debris from the explosion and suffered multiple injuries, including a significant leg injury. She also called 911 after being injured. She was transported to a local hospital and later transferred to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, in Baltimore. She is in serious condition. Her husband and child were treated and released from a local hospital. No other injuries were reported.

The driver of the car, a late model BMW sports utility vehicle (SUV), Ms. Katalin Budi, was evaluated by emergency medical personnel on the scene. She initially refused transport, but was eventually transported to a local hospital. She is expected to treated and released. City of Rockville Police have ticketed and charged Ms. Budi with “Driving on a Suspended License”. Her License indicated she had been suspended by the Maryland Medical Advisory Board. No reason is known at this time why her license was suspended.

Four (4) townhouses were completely destroyed by the explosion and fire. Several others received significant damage and are unfit to occupy. At least seven (7) families will be displaced. The Red Cross is assisting with shelter. MCFRS Fire and Explosive Investigators estimate damage at over $1.8 million dollars.