Twenty-three people were injured in a possible gas-related explosion on July 6 that damaged multiple structures in a South Florida shopping plaza, including an LA Fitness health club, according to multiple media reports.
The explosion may have originated inside vacant pizza restaurant PizzaFire shortly before 11:30 a.m. at the Market on University shopping plaza in Plantation, Florida, approximately six miles west of Fort Lauderdale, NBC 6 reported.
A neighboring LA Fitness club, located at 1041 S. University Dr., was evacuated after the blast. A cellphone video submitted to ABC 10 shows that the club's windows were shattered and debris was strewn about the exercise areas.
“Thank goodness at this point nobody was killed,” Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon told WSVN 7 News. “As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse.”
LA Fitness did not immediately respond to Club Industry's request for further comment, but the club's website states it is closed until July 10 due to a power outage.
Firefighters found compromised gas lines and secured an active leak at the shopping plaza, Gordon said.
The explosion jettisoned slabs of concrete and metal shrapnel as far as 100 yards from the blast site. Several cars were damaged, and two of the reported injuries are considered serious, with one person being admitted to nearby Broward Health Medical Center as a Level 1 Trauma patient.
"We thought it was thunder at first, and then we felt the building shake and things started falling. I looked outside, and it was almost like the world was ending," Alex Carver, a local deli worker who witnessed the explosion, told NBC 6. "It was nuts, man. It was crazy."
PizzaFire had been out of business for several months prior to the explosion, according to NBC 6.
In November 2018, a New York City Equinox club was similarly affected when a gas-related explosion occurred in the building's basement.