An explosion has heavily damaged a shopping center in Plantation, Florida. According to early reports from the scene, no fatalities have been mentioned. These same reports state that as many as 20 people have been injured but the extent of those injuries is unknown at this time. Plantation is a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale and lies immediately to the west in Broward County.
The explosion, which ripped through The Fountains shopping center, occurred in late morning hours of July 6th. Sources within both the Plantation Fire Department and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department say that early evidence suggests that a gas leak from a closed pizza restaurant may have been the source of the explosion.
Overhead images from the scene reveals a widespread debris field throughout the shopping center’s parking lot, with several vehicles apparently damaged by either the force of the explosion or from flying debris. Although there were early of smoke rising from the scene, there is no indication of significant fire damage.
The heaviest damage to building structures appears to be centered on the end of the shopping center closest to a free-standing LA Fitness Center. Sources state the apparent site of the blast was at one time a pizza restaurant but that the business had been closed for several months. An employee at the LA Fitness Center reported smelling the odor of natural gas prior to the explosion, but it isn’t clear if the restaurant was the source of the odor, but the former restaurant was destroyed by the explosion.
Local sources report that injuries are limited to cuts and are mostly the result of flying or falling glass from other businesses. There also appears to be extensive damage involving the common roof and the plate glass windows of those businesses. Damage to the LA Fitness Center seems to be limited to broken glass and to signage on the sides that were closest.
While it is too early to firmly establish the cause of today’s explosion, the early evidence strongly suggests that a natural gas line that had been used to fuel the ovens in the former was somehow damaged or accidentally left open by work crews. This allowed gas to accumulate until it became concentrated enough to either ignite spontaneously or by a spark from an electrical source. Regardless, the liability issue here seems straightforward.
Since buildings do not explode on their own, something must have caused the explosion.
The most common cause of building explosions is a natural gas leak that accumulates over time.
Since the explosion site was a former pizza restaurant, it was probably using natural gas to fuel its ovens.
If initial reports that the restaurant was being remodeled are correct, then a gas leak explosion is the most likely cause.
In any construction or remodeling job involving the placement or renovation of a natural gas line, it is mandatory that gas flow be interrupted while that line is being serviced. Generally, it is the contractor’s responsibility to adhere to all safety precautions. The first of these precautions is to interrupt gas flow at its source where it comes off the main gas line. Failure to shut off natural gas flow “at the meter,” or failure to check a work site for residual accumulations of natural gas could expose a contractor to serious liability issues should an explosion and/or fire occur.
The investigation into the cause of this accident is, of course, ongoing and in its very early stages. We invite you to visit our site often for the latest developments in this incident and other news regarding other construction accidents.