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Open natural gas valve caused explosion leaving 22 injured in Plantation, state investigators say

State investigators need evidence to find out who opened valve that caused explosion

The LA Fitness in Plantation was among the businesses damaged in the explosion. A view from Sky 10 showed the aftermath a day after the explosion.
The LA Fitness in Plantation was among the businesses damaged in the explosion. A view from Sky 10 showed the aftermath a day after the explosion.


PLANTATION, Fla. – Who is responsible for the explosion that left 22 people injured and several businesses destroyed July 6 at a shopping plaza in Plantation? State investigators couldn’t figure it out with the evidence they have, and unless there is new evidence, the case will remain closed.

According to a recent Florida Department of Financial Services report, an open natural gas valve at the vacant Pizzafire shop in the Market on University plaza, 1041 S. University Dr., caused the 11:28 a.m. explosion.

Investigators reported they just don’t know who opened the valve at the north end of the plaza. They do suspect it was done on the morning of the explosion.

“A valve to the gas line on the rear of the building was opened, most likely to the fully-open position,” investigators wrote in the report, adding that “the only plausible explanations for the sudden opening of the gas valve is that it was opened on purpose through direct human intervention."

Plantation Mayor Lynn Stoner assesses the damage caused by an explosion at a shopping center in her city a day earlier.
Plantation Mayor Lynn Stoner assesses the damage caused by an explosion at a shopping center in her city a day earlier.

The investigators couldn’t agree if a person intentionally opened the valve, so they added in the report that it could have been “inadvertently opened by something being ‘bumped’ into the valve.”

Investigators suspect an air conditioning unit likely triggered the valve. But why was the air conditioning on in the vacant shop?

Investigators wrote the “air conditioners were left on in the space because the agent was showing the space to prospective renters. There is no reason nor any evidence to support them being used as a timed-initiating device to cause the explosion.”

Investigators closed the case Dec. 10. Devin Galetta, a spokesman for the department, wrote in an e-mail Thursday afternoon that “the investigation is subject to be reopened open the receipt of additional information.”

Galetta is asking anyone with information about the cause of the explosion to call the Florida arson hotline at 1-877-662-7766.

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(Florida)

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