Florida

An open gas valve and an A/C unit caused the Plantation strip mall blast, state report says

Police continue to clear debris days after an explosion in Plantation shook a shopping plaza

Police clear debris three days after a massive explosion leveled The Fountains shopping plaza in Plantation, Florida, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. The explosion, which happened last Saturday, July 6, 2019, injured 23 and left a pizza parlor demolished.
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Police clear debris three days after a massive explosion leveled The Fountains shopping plaza in Plantation, Florida, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. The explosion, which happened last Saturday, July 6, 2019, injured 23 and left a pizza parlor demolished.

A gas valve turned on about a half hour after sunrise and an electrical ignition from an air conditioning unit caused the July 6 explosion that injured 22 people and destroyed part of a Plantation strip mall.

That’s according to the preliminary Origin and Cause report from the Florida Department of Financial Services, which is over the state Fire Marshal; the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services; and the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations.

Dash cam video from a minivan showed the blast happened at 11:28 a.m. at 1025 S. University Dr., the former home of Pizzafire restaurant.

The report’s conclusion stated:

“Either the ball valve at the rear of the business or the ball valve on the top side of the meter was turned on the day of incident at shortly after 7 a.m. The circumstances that precipitated this are unknown at this time.”

“The gas was able to enter the structure due to an open unrestricted gas line.”

“The ignition source was likely electrical from an HVAC unit that was being utilized in the vacant business.”

Fire, Arson and Explosives investigators saw that all the parts of an air conditioning unit “were recovered in a straight line northeast of the blast site of the parking area west of 813 University Drive. When placed back in their approximate relationships, it was noted that all the panels of this unit bulged outward from a center point. The central blower, its motor and duct were not recovered.

“This was the only air conditioner which suffered this type of damage.”

“We want to stress again that this is an ongoing investigation and evidence is still being examined, reviewed, and processed, and a final determination has not been made,” Alecia Collins, press secretary for the Department of Financial Services, said in an email.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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