HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Gamblers were startled and sprinted for the exits when a piece of fire suppression equipment loudly burst at the Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood on Monday morning, sending debris and fiberglass flying below.
Several people suffered minor injuries but nobody was believed to be seriously hurt, city and Seminole Tribe officials said.
Authorities said six people were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. Four of the six had already been released Monday afternoon.
Another 20 refused transport but were treated on-scene in the parking lot with minor ailments such as scrapes, bruises or eye irritation.
“Luckily there was no one so close as to be seriously injured,” said Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner, who added that one of the people hospitalized had a blunt trauma injury that was non-life-threatening.
The casino is located at 4150 North State Road 7, about a half-mile south of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Bitner said maintenance was being done to the fire suppression equipment in an equipment room behind a casino wall. They were done servicing the system, and when they turned it back on, a line connecting to the tank ruptured.
“It had been reconnected with a gas canister,” Bitner said. “It’s actually fire suppression equipment that uses gas to put out a fire.”
About 100 people were at the casino shortly before 10 a.m. at the time of the explosion, which witnesses said caused a noisy boom.
“It was an extremely loud explosion,” said witness Keith Richards, who was playing blackjack inside. “Like a transformer burst. It was a very loud sound. You see all those fibers falling from the drywall.”
People went scurrying for the exits, witnesses said, and video obtained by Local 10 News shows insulation and fiberglass on the casino’s floor moments after the explosion.
The facility opened in 1979, billing itself as the nation’s first large-stakes bingo hall. It now offers slot machines, table games and high-stakes bingo.
The 24-hour casino remained closed for cleanup and investigation into Monday evening but reopened its doors at 8:30 p.m.
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Assignment Desk Manager Kerry Weston contributed to this report.