Explosion at Florida Strip Mall Injures 23, Officials Say

Twenty-three people were injured in an explosion at a South Florida strip mall on Saturday, all of whom were expected to survive, an official said.

The official, Jason Nunemaker, the chief administrative officer for the city of Plantation, Fla., said on Saturday night that everyone had been accounted for and that one trauma patient was upgraded to stable condition.

He toured the site — known as the Market on University — multiple times and said the debris field and shrapnel was reminiscent of damage from a hurricane. Officials said they were exploring a gas leak as the possible cause of the blast, which occurred around 11:30 a.m. in the Broward County city, which is about 30 miles north of Miami.

“It’s a miracle,” Mr. Nunemaker said. “We were very fortunate that we didn’t experience something much worse. I was relieved that it wasn’t more serious with regard to casualties.”

Social media posts showed widespread damage to the retail center, which is home to an L.A. Fitness gym and several restaurants.

Joel Gordon, the deputy chief of the Plantation Fire Department, said the cause of the explosion had not been confirmed and Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Teco Peoples Gas, said the company was working with fire officials to investigate.

“I don’t know that there was a leak,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Our first priority is ensuring the area is safe. We have shut off the gas.”

The company serves seven or eight customers in the strip mall, Ms. Jacobs said, but she didn’t know whether it served the specific site where the explosion took place.

Arson and explosives investigators from the Miami division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene on Saturday afternoon, the bureau said on Twitter.

Daniel Hubert, 20, had been working out at the fitness center when he said he had felt the building shake moments before he had heard the explosion.

“A lot of the ceiling started to fall and the weights were shaking from the shock of the explosion,” Mr. Hubert said. “Everyone was running around. It was a lot of chaos.”

As many as 300 people had started running for the emergency exits, he said.

“When I was leaving, the police were telling everyone to vacate the premises,” Mr. Hubert added. “My truck windshield was cracked, and the explosion literally opened my truck door. A lot of cars were totaled.”

Mr. Hubert said that about half of the L.A. Fitness center’s exterior was destroyed, and that the restaurant across from it was severely damaged. The only thing that remained standing were the walls, he said.

“I had friends two to three miles away, and they said they thought there was an earthquake,” Mr. Hubert said.

Jack Decker, 40, felt the blast from his kitchen, which he said was about 750 feet from the explosion.

“All of a sudden, you heard a really loud boom,” Mr. Decker said. “You felt the ground shake under your feet.”

Mr. Decker said he immediately grabbed his girlfriend and ushered her out the front of the house.

“I didn’t know what was happening, if it was a plane crash or bomb,” Mr. Decker said. “Everything slowed down. You’re not really thinking straight.”

Soon, other neighbors came out onto the street, he said.

“Two sets of my sliding glass doors were blown out,” Mr. Decker said. “They came off the tracks and one shattered into the house. There’s a crack in a beam that supports our patio and Sheetrock fell and broke a chair or two.”

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