Report: Plantation explosion caused by open natural gas valve

Explosion at Market on University shopping center left nearly 2 dozen injured

PLANTATION, Fla. – A preliminary report that was released Friday by state investigators has found that an explosion at a Plantation shopping center was caused by "an open natural gas valve."

The explosion occurred July 6 at the Market on University shopping center on South University Drive.

"Twenty-two persons were reported transported to nearby hospitals, two of whom had severe injuries," the report read.

Authorities had said a ruptured gas line was discovered following the explosion, but did not confirm whether that was the cause of the blast.

On Friday, Local 10 News obtained the eight-page state report that concluded, after a preliminary investigation, that, "the incident was caused by an explosion of natural gas being delivered into the building by the permitted piping for the prior tenant PizzaFire."

For weeks, investigators sifted through rubble searching for whatever evidence they could find. The report says a total of 23 items were recovered from the scene, including nine pieces of natural gas pipe. According to the report, "The gas was able to enter the structure through an open unrestricted gas line."

Local 10 News asked officials how the line came to be opened. They responded, in part, by saying, "The source of that open valve is undetermined to date."

As the shopping center with more than a dozen businesses remains shut down and surrounded by black fencing, business owners still worry if the buildings will have to be knocked down.

Officials made it a point to reiterate that this was just a preliminary report. The investigation into the explosion continues.

According to the report, multiple agencies, including the Plantation Police Department; the Plantation Fire Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Bureau of Insurance Fraud; and the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigations were involved during the investigation.

Broward County said it has yet to make a determination if the buildings will be knocked down because they are still being inspected.

About the Authors: