Gas explosion at South Florida shopping center injures at least 21

July 6 (UPI) — A massive explosion at a South Florida shopping center left 21 people injured, including two seriously, Saturday morning, authorities confirmed.

Fire officials said they believe a gas line exploded inside a vacant pizza restaurant, sending chunks of concrete and other debris flying through the air.

Ruptured gas lines were found in the rubble at the scene in Plantation, Fla., outside Fort Lauderdale in Broward County around 11:30 a.m. EDT.

Ambulances transported 13 people to the Westside Regional Medical Center, hospital officials told ABC news.
Rescuers are still searching the area but they believe there were no fatalities.

“Thank goodness … At this point, nobody was killed,” said Joel Gordon, Plantation Fire battalion chief. “As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse. The LA Fitness was occupied so it could have been tremendously worse … We’re still searching. We’re still looking. Everything at this point is tentative.”

A triage has been set up.

Witnesses said it sounded like a bomb went off.

The blast blew out windows at the LA Fitness and the building next door was also completely destroyed. Several vehicles in the parking lot were damaged.

There were no flames from the explosion. Gas leaks like this typically don’t have fires because they burn out, Gordon said.

Natural gas has been turned off in the entire area, fire officials said.

“All stores and businesses in the area of the Fountains Plaza and the Plantation Marketplace plaza near LA Fitness will be shut down until Fire Personnel can determine that it is safe to return. Please do not come to this area if possible,” Plantation Police tweeted.

Guillermo Villa was across the street about to charge his Tesla Model X when he heard the explosion. He saw light, then a cloud of debris.

“I started seeing pieces of the building falling on my head,” Villa told ABC News. “I went underneath my car because there was so much debris flying. It was like raining pieces of roof, wall, bricks.”

He said he escaped without injuries.

Alex Carver was working at a deli across the street when the explosion happened.

“We thought it was thunder at first, and then we felt the building shake and things started falling,” Carver told NBC Miami. “I looked outside and it was almost like the world was ending.”


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