Plantation, FL – Authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the explosion at a strip mall over the weekend that demolished a vacant pizza restaurant and injured 23 people.
Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause, but according to the Miami Herald, a spokesman for State Fire, Marshal Jimmy Patronis, a former PSC commissioner who handled several natural gas regulation cases, said Monday the agency couldn’t release any updates on the investigation because it was still an open investigation.
Plantation police said businesses at The Fountains mall on University Drive, across from the strip center where the blast occurred, were cleared to reopen later in the day.
According to the report, Peoples Gas said in a statement that technicians “found no natural gas leaks” in their system, although firefighters did report a ruptured natural gas pipe.
The head of the state program in charge of natural gas safety and inspections, Rick Moses, said, “Peoples Gas is responsible for maintaining the line to the point of the gas meter”, but from the gas meter to the building, “It’s the customer’s responsibility to maintain.”
The blast, which blew out the windows of an adjacent fitness center, scattered large pieces of concrete as far as 50 yards away and sent pieces of metal 100 yards across the street.
Police said of the 23 people who were hurt, 19 were transported and one of the injured was a child but the child’s age is unknown. One person was seriously injured.