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21 People Were Injured In A Suspected Gas Explosion At A Florida Shopping Center

"Thank goodness at this point nobody was killed," a local fire official said. "As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse."

Last updated on July 6, 2019, at 5:15 p.m. ET

Posted on July 6, 2019, at 1:01 p.m. ET

Brynn Anderson / AP

More than 20 people were injured in an explosion at a shopping center in Plantation, Florida, on Saturday afternoon.

The Plantation Fire Department responded to a call of a possible gas explosion at or near the LA Fitness on South University Drive at 11:28 a.m., said Battalion Chief Joel Gordon.

Gordon said 21 people were injured, including two who were in serious condition. Officials found wounded people scattered throughout the area, including in the gym.

He added that he believed one child was among the injured but was not one of the two in serious condition.

"At this point, we believe we've accounted for everyone," Gordon said during a press conference Saturday afternoon, noting that officials were doing a secondary search of the collapsed structure next to the gym. "Thank goodness at this point nobody was killed. ... As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse."

Gordon said responders found ruptured gas lines and an active gas leak when they arrived on scene but have not determined whether that was the cause of the explosion.

The exact origin of the explosion is still under investigation, but several units in a strip mall next to the LA Fitness, including a closed pizza restaurant, were destroyed, officials said.

WPLG via AP

"There is significant debris throughout the whole strip mall," Gordon said.

Photos and video of the scene showed leveled structures, with debris and dust covering the ground.

.@DavieFireRescue Responding to gas explosion near south university Dr. and Peters Road. Gathering more information now. @WPLGLocal10

#BREAKING Here’s pictures from gas explosion at Plantation, FL shopping center. β€œA bomb just went off,” a man says in a video sent to @WPLGLocal10.

According to the Associated Press, the blast sent debris flying about 100 yards across the street.

Aerial footage from WPLG-TV appeared to show the blast was concentrated in a building next to the LA Fitness. The front windows of the gym had been blown out by the blast.

Footage on social media showed dazed and shellshocked people in gym gear. One video posted to Snapchat showed a man lying on the pavement with a bloodied leg as he received medical attention.

Screenshots from footage shared on Snapchat after a gas explosion in Plantation, Florida.

Police in Plantation urged members of the public to avoid the area. All stores and businesses in the area of the Fountains Plaza and Plantation Marketplace were being shut down until further notice.

Fire officials in nearby Coral Springs and Parkland said they had sent units to the scene to assist. The Florida state fire marshal's office was also assisting in the investigation.

Evan Hoffman, 47, was working out with his wife at the LA Fitness when the explosion happened.

"A huge, huge bang, thump, almost, explosion," Hoffman told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "It started shaking back and forth and the roof tiles started crashing down and the power went out."

Amanda Buscemi, a dentist whose office, Kid's Dental Place, was destroyed in the blast, told WPLG she could see her diploma in the debris while watching live footage of the scene.

Brynn Anderson / AP

An official walks through debris at the scene of the explosion.

"We just cried and cried, but at the same time we're just so grateful that no one is hurt," Buscemi said, adding that while the office was open last Saturday, it was closed when the explosion happened because of the holiday weekend. "It's awful."

Buscemi said the building had been evacuated previously several months ago because of a gas leak at the now-closed pizza restaurant.

"It was the pizza place again that we had an issue with," she said.

The blast also destroyed Code Ninjas, a youth coding center, according to a statement from the company. The location was closed Saturday for the holiday weekend, so no children, parents, or staff were at the center at the time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and patrons that were visiting the neighboring shops that may have been affected," the company said.

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