House explosion caused by stored propane tank

DUNEDIN — Authorities say a 33-pound industrial propane canister being kept in a bedroom was responsible for a massive explosion at a Dunedin house earlier this month

A State Fire Marshal’s Office spokesman says investigators are now trying to figure out why the homeowner, 46-year-old Duane Cole, was keeping the propane in his room. Authorities are still investigating how the gas got out of the tank, but a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman says the blaze has not been deemed suspicious.

The explosion occurred on the morning of Feb. 11 and created a fire that destroyed the home.

16 sheriff’s workers investigated

FORT LAUDERDALE — Broward County Sheriff’s officials are investigating whether 15 deputies and one civilian employee used steroids.

All 16 were placed on administrative duty Friday, pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.

Broward Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Leljedal says employees suspected of steroid use have been ordered to take drug tests, and the agency will determine whether any of the employees that test positive have prescriptions.

Leljedal says any sheriff’s office employee who takes a prescription drug without a prescription or any type of illegal drug can be fired. He says it’s too early to speculate about possible criminal charges.

Officials say results of the investigation will take at least a week, but they do not believe all the cases are related.

Couple: Hotel peephole reversed

HOLLYWOOD — Authorities are investigating a complaint that the peephole for a Hollywood motel room was reversed to look into the room.

A Quality Inn representative says officials have examined hours of surveillance tape, and the Denver couple that filed the complaint were not spied on during their stay. The couple checked in Feb. 14 after a cruise. The wife says she noticed the next morning that the peephole had been reversed.

A vice president for the hotel says it was an isolated incident and that the problem was immediately corrected.

Key West airport terminal opens

KEY WEST — A long-awaited new terminal building has opened at Key West International Airport.

The 30,000-square-foot facility — part of a $31.6 million renovation program at the airport — officially opened on Wednesday. The structure features second-level ticketing, baggage and security areas for departing passengers, a restaurant and retail concessions.

Sheriff’s ’copter unit grounded

PENSACOLA — The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is grounding its two helicopters, citing budget woes.

Officials say it costs nearly $800,000 to operate the unit, including salaries, benefits, maintenance, supplies, fuel and parts, in fiscal year 2008. This year, the agency may have to slash $6.5 million from the department’s nearly $79 million budget.

The air unit has been involved in everything from high-speed car chases to helping find people who are lost.

— Herald wire reports