Breaking news: Apparent gas explosion rips Plantation shopping center

About 20 injured people were hospitalized and no fatalities had been reported early Saturday afternoon

Explosion damages Fountains shopping center in Plantation (Credit: Matias Ocner | Miami Herald)
Explosion damages Fountains shopping center in Plantation (Credit: Matias Ocner | Miami Herald)

UPDATED, July 7, 9:20 a.m.: An apparent gas explosion Saturday at a Plantation shopping center caused multiple injuries but no fatalities.

The explosion caused significant damage to the Fountains shopping center at 801 South University Drive in Plantation.

The blast injured 23 people. Two were transported in serious condition to Broward Health Medical Center, including one who was admitted as a Level 1 trauma patient with life-threatening injuries.

Plantation Fire Deputy Chief Joel Gordon told the Miami Herald that ruptured gas lines, a possible cause of the explosion, were found in the debris. TECO Energy cut gas service to the area after the explosion.

Gordon also told the Herald that “as bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse.”

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The blast happened near an LA Fitness gym at the shopping center, and authorities told the Herald it may have originated at a vacant pizza restaurant that crews have been renovating. Residents of Davie felt the impact several miles from the explosion.

Video footage showed that the Fountains shopping center was covered with broken pieces of buildings and vehicles after the explosion.

Michael Lind, a contractor and former firefighter who witnessed the explosion, said the scene resembled a “war zone” and that he smelled gas.

An LA Fitness employee who declined to give her full name said ceilings at the gym started collapsing and windows were shattered after a loud bang at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

WTVJ-Channel 6 reported that a South Carolina company called Locus Gardens LLC acquired the Fountains shopping center in August 2007 for $24 million. [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth