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Business Owners Still Awaiting Word On Future Of Buildings Affected By Plantation Explosion

PLANTATION (CBSMiami) – Three and a half weeks after an explosion ripped through a vacant restaurant business in Plantation, causing numerous businesses to be shut down and employees to scramble to find other employment, there are precious few answers about the cause of the blast and what lies ahead for the businesses affected at the Market on University.

Hemi Patel owns a dry cleaning business about 4 businesses away from the blast.

She said its frustrating not getting information from the developer or the city about whether the buildings, which have been deemed unsafe, can be rebuilt or need to be torn down.

"It's just ridiculous that we can't get some sort of answer, 'Ok this is what's happening. This is what's going to happen then we would know how to move forward," Patel told CBS4 News. "If they say, 'We have to rip down the building,' great, let's go forward with that."

Patel said her biggest frustration is having thousands of customer's clothing items inside her business that she can't get to.

"We can't get our clients their clothing back," she said.

The Plantation City Council held its first meeting since the explosion on Monday night. Comments about the explosion only came at the end of the meeting as council members made some final remarks. Several, including Mayor Lynn Stoner, singled out the performances of the city's first responders and building officials in dealing with the immediate impacts of the explosion and its after effects.

However, Stoner refused to answer a reporter's questions on what lies ahead for the buildings.

Councilman Nick Sortal did answer questions. He said he is grateful that no one died in the blast.

"The number thing I hear is gratitude and wonder that no one was hurt by this thing," Sortal said.

Sortal said he understands the frustration of business owners and employees but said this is a time-consuming process that the city needs to get right. He likened the situation to a car accident where a decision must be made about whether to repair the car or total it and get a new one.

"They're gonna look through and weigh the dollars to put everything back together and they'll have to decide whether they're gonna knock it down or patch it back up," Sortal said. "That's (the developers) decision and whatever they decide the city will then jump in and inspect the buildings and make sure they're safe for the residents."

Sortal complemented the work of the city's Chamber of Commerce in working to try and get jobs for people affected by the blast. Hemi Patel said the city's "been great" but wants to know what city leaders are doing to work with the developer.

"I want to know what are we doing now to push the landlord, to finalize whatever needs to finalized or to let the landlord do what they need to do let us get in there," she said. "Where is this going now? What's the holdup?"

On Monday CBS4 News asked the State Fire Marshal about the status of its investigation into the cause of the explosion. A spokesperson said they would look into the matter and get back to us.

However, we have not received any additional information.


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