PLANTATION, Fla. – The building where Saturday's explosion occurred at a Plantation shopping center is structurally unsound and some businesses may have to be demolished, but that's a decision that will ultimately be made by the property owner and building department, Plantation Fire Department Deputy Chief Joel Gordon said.
The blast at the Market on University shopping center is believed to have happened in the corner of the building at a shuttered pizza restaurant.
"I had just gotten into work that morning, and there was a smell of gas," Total Nutrition business manager Graig Foulks said.
Authorities believe there may have been a gas leak at the vacant PizzaFire restaurant leading up to the blast.
Foulks said he quickly told a worker at the Pho Brothers restaurant when he smelled gas, who then called Teco People's Gas.
"As soon as he got through, is when it happened," Foulks said.
Teco People's Gas spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the company was in the process of sending a crew to the shopping center when the blast occurred.
"The cause of this explosion remains undetermined," she said.
Business owners have since been allowed to return to their stores to assess the damage.
"We just kind of wanted to get a look inside the store and see what it looked like and see if we're good for business," Denny’s Clothing store manager Kristy Ramos said.
The general manager of Mexican restaurant Zona Fresca said the business has lost tens of thousands of dollars because they have been closed since Saturday and all the food they ordered has rotted due to the power being shut off.
"It happened to be that that Saturday, we have a big delivery, you know. So pretty much everything that came that day, we lost," Rosa Abdala said.
Abdala said she is going to try to get back inside to salvage some tablets and papers and is hoping the restaurant can make the needed repairs within three weeks. She said the glass in the restaurant is broken and some ceiling tiles are damaged.
"I'm sad, you know. I'm worried," Abdala said. "Mostly for (the employees) because, you know, they count on the job. They have bills to pay. They have families."
A spokeswoman for the Greater Plantation Chamber of Commerce said her organization has asked hundreds of surrounding businesses to help the displaced workers.
She said the response has been overwhelming.