A suspected gas explosion tore through a shopping plaza in Plantation, Florida, blowing out windows, scattering debris, and injuring up to 20 people.
Authorities said that despite the devastation it appears no one was killed.
“As bad as it is it could have been a lot worse,” Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon said at an afternoon news conference.
The blast shook The Fountains retail center and left a nightmarish scene. The source of the explosion was believed to be a former pizza restaurant, Pizzafire, which had been vacant for months and caused damage to about a dozen neighboring businesses.
Evan Hoffman, 47, who was working out at the LA Fitness gym at the center, said he heard a “huge, huge bang, thump.”
“It started shaking back and forth and the roof tiles started crashing down and the power went out,” he told the Sun Sentinel.
“We saw Good Samaritans carrying the injured,” he said. “there’s a lot of damage, a lot of damage.”
Police said at least 21 people were injured in the blast, which was felt several miles away. At least two of those injuries were serious.
“At this point, no one was killed,” Gordon said.
Gordon said there was an active gas leak when authorities arrived on the scene, and that they found ruptured gas lines among the rubble. However, agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the Broward Sheriff’s bomb squad, have not yet determined that a gas leak was the cause of the explosion.
Authorities have shut off the gas to the area surrounding the blast.