PLANTATION (CBSMiami/AP) – Two days after an explosion destroyed parts of a shopping plaza in Plantation, the cleanup and the investigation into what caused the big blast continues.
“In an explosion, there are dozens and dozens of reasons why something would explode. Not just gas,” a Plantation Fire Rescue spokesperson said.
Officials believe the explosion may have been from a gas leak at a vacant pizza parlor, but said it was too early to tell. The restaurant, called PizzaFire, had been out of business for several months.
“In order for the investigators to give it its due, they really have to leave everything on the table until they can eliminate everything, a Plantation firefighter said.
Plantation Fire Rescue said they discovered ruptured gas lines beneath the rubble but they’re still trying to determine if that was the cause.
“We shut off gas to the whole area as a precaution. We did an extensive very thorough leak testing of our system and found no leaks on our system,” a spokesperson with TECO People’s Gas said.
The explosion hurled large pieces of concrete up to 50 yards away and sent pieces of metal scattering as far as 100 yards across the street.
Twenty-three people were hurt. Many have already been released from the hospital and expected to make full recoveries.
Authorities say it could have been significantly worse.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle that no one was critically hurt,” firefighters said.
Metal fencing went up around Fountains Plaza and Plantation Marketplace on Sunday morning as emotions poured out. Some store owners returned to pick up their property.
“Everything just started falling and that was it, I just ran out of the door,” said Hemi Patel, who owns the Presto Dry Cleaners in the plaza. “I’m just glad nobody was seriously injured and we’re all here.”
Sharif Mohamad came back for his car on Sunday, one of few not towed from the lot.
“All the windows are blown out in the front and back and the top of the car is completely dented and everything inside the car is basically just hanging off,” he said.
The explosion demolished the closed pizza business, leaving behind only part of its metal frame. The blast also blew out the windows of the LA Fitness next door.
Jon Kayne, who is visiting from London, was in the LA Fitness during the explosion. Now he’s trying to get his personal belongings back.
“My keys are in a locker in the gym along with my credit cards and ID. I’m a tourist and leave in 20 days, hopefully, I can get it before I leave,” he said.
Sandra Kahn, who was also working out in the LA Fitness, went back Monday to get her car. She described to CBS4’s Joan Murray what it was like.
“Of course everyone was in a panic. We thought it was just our room and then we saw the windows blown out. We all got out safely,” she said.
“It looked like it was a car bomb because when I looked out the window I saw that the cars that were parked in front of the restaurant, the trunks were blown out,” she added.
On Monday, Plantation Police on will meet with people looking to retrieve vehicles and valuables at the parking lot of the Charles Schwab building at 1179 S. University Drive until 5 p.m.
According to their release:
“All vehicles left inside the investigation area will be removed today (07/08/2019). Vehicle owners can retrieve their vehicles today by responding to the parking lot of the Charles Schwab building (1179 S. University Drive) and meeting with Police personnel.
All remaining or inoperable vehicles will be towed to Superior Towing (954) 424-8781.”
The Florida Crisis Response Team will host what they’re calling a group intervention for anyone impacted by the explosion. It will be held Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Central Park, 9151 NW 2nd Street, in Plantation. There will be specialists for children. For more information call (954) 797-2172.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)