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More than 20 injured after explosion rocks shopping center in Plantation, Florida

Explosion at Florida shopping mall injures 20

Plantation, Florida — Twenty-three were injured, one seriously, after a vacant pizza restaurant exploded in a South Florida shopping plaza Saturday, authorities said. Footage from CBS Miami showed the windows blown out of a nearby fitness center.

The blast sent debris flying along a busy road in Plantation, west of Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. The restaurant was destroyed, and nearby businesses were damaged.

Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon said it was unclear what caused the explosion, but they suspect it was due to a gas leak.   

"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," said Alex Carver, who works at a deli across the street from the explosion. "It was nuts, man. It was crazy."

The blast scattered large pieces of concrete as far as 50 yards away and sent pieces of metal as far as 100 yards across the street. Carver said two of his co-workers' cars were destroyed.

The explosion demolished the building, leaving behind only part of its metal frame. 

APTOPIX Shopping Center Plaza Explosion
A firefighter walks through the remains of a building after an explosion on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Florida. Brynn Anderson / AP

Dozens of firefighters responded and could be seen picking through the rubble with dogs sniffing through the debris. There were no known fatalities immediately after the explosion, said police officer Chavez Grant.

Police updated the number of injuries to 23 about six hours after the blast, saying of those 23 people who were hurt, 19 were transported and one of the injured was a child but the child's age is unknown. Officials said one person was seriously injured.   

The Plantation fire and police departments said on Twitter that the street was closed to traffic. The fire department called it a gas explosion with "multiple patients."