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Plantation, FL Shopping Center Explosion Under Investigation

Last Saturday, Arnold & Itkin reported on a Plantation, Florida shopping center explosion. The accident occurred at the Market on University shopping plaza located in Plantation, Florida, north of Miami. Initially, we stated that between 15 and 20 individuals sustained injuries caused by the blast. Officials have now confirmed the number of injured is 23. The explosion occurred in a PizzaFire restaurant which had been closed since December. Each of the injured individuals were working at or visiting nearby businesses. Officials confirmed that two people are still in the hospital receiving treatment for their injuries.

Images from the accident resemble were distressing. In total, the explosion damaged 20 nearby businesses. Only remnants of parts of a shopping center stand, an LA Fitness exhibits a shattered façade, and an adjacent parking lot contains damaged cars, broken glass, and twisted rubble. One man is in critical condition while another victim condition was downgraded to fair.

Did a Gas Leak Cause the Explosion?

Reports that immediately followed the explosion suggested that a gas leak caused the accident. This morning, a TECO Peoples Gas spokeswoman confirmed that the company received a call reporting a gas odor at the Plantation shopping plaza. The gas company confirmed that it is in the process of sending a crew to investigate its gas lines.

Tenants of nearby buildings are certain that they smelled the odor of gas just before the blast. Graig Foulks, a manager at Total Nutrition, a store next to PizzaFire, told the Miami Herald that he checked with a neighboring restaurant to confirm that the odor was not from them. Foulks said that he assumed the smell was not originating from the pizza store as it has been vacant for months. Hiep Van, the owner that Foulks spoke to, was speaking with TESCO Peoples Gas when the blast occurred.

However, investigators are still trying to confirm what caused the blast. Chief Joel Gordon of the Plantation Fire Department said that it’s too soon to confirm that the explosion was caused by a gas leak. "The assumption is, and everybody looks at it and says, 'Oh, it must be gas.' But we can't confirm that until we actually dig down and find the source," Gordon said.