GovXSILVER SPRING, Md. – A Maryland police officer who was the first to respond to a gas explosion and fire that killed seven people and injured dozens of others at an apartment complex last year has received his department’s highest honor, reported Fox News.

Jeff Hughes, an officer with Montgomery County, received the department’s Medal of Valor Wednesday for his bravery.

Last August he was working off-duty for the Flower Branch apartments in Silver Spring when the explosion occurred. Hughes ran to help a family out of the rubble and then went to adjacent buildings to pull fire alarms and get more than 100 people out.

Rescue workers eventually recovered seven bodies from the debris left behind by the explosion, which was caused by a natural gas leak. The boom shook homes more than a mile away.

In the feature photo Officer Hughes is pictured with Chief Tom Manger.

(Photo courtesy Montgomery County Police)