(Editor's Note: This article has been updated with a comment from LA Fitness.)
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.”
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.
Club Industry reached out to LA Fitness on July 8 for comment. LA Fitness responded on July 19 with this statement:
"We would like to thank the Plantation community, law enforcement and other local authorities for all of their support in response to the alarming event that took place earlier this month. We are very grateful that none of the reported injuries to members, employees or other patrons of the shopping complex appear to be life-threatening, particularly in view of the devastation that occurred. We are informed that the investigation by authorities is ongoing and the source of the blast has not yet been identified with certainty. We, like you, await that news. We do know that re-opening our club, which we intend to do, requires extensive repairs. In the meantime, we have relocated our employees to other surrounding clubs and have invited our Plantation members to use these clubs as well."