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Explosion at shopping center leaves 21 injured: 'Looks like an apocalypse'

ABC News logo ABC News 7/6/2019

Police and fire crews are combing through the rubble of an explosion at a shopping center in Florida, officials said Saturday.

Twenty-one people were injured, including two seriously, in the blast at The Fountains shopping center in Plantation, just outside of Fort Lauderdale, said Joel Gordon, Battalion Chief for Plantation Fire.

Video shows windows blown out of an LA Fitness while a building next door appeared completely destroyed, with debris strewn in all directions.

Ruptured gas lines were found in the rubble but it has not been confirmed if the explosion was caused by a gas leak, officials said.

The origin of the blast, which went off just before 11:30 a.m. local time, is also not known.

Thirteen people have gone to the Westside Regional Medical Center emergency room, a hospital official told ABC News.

"This could have been a lot worse," Gordon told reporters.

a man that is standing in the rain: A firefighter walks through the remains of a building after an explosion, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Fla.

A firefighter walks through the remains of a building after an explosion, July 6, 2019, in Plantation, Fla.
© Brynn Anderson/AP

(MORE: 'Mechanical failure' blamed for University of Nevada dormitory explosion resulting in minor injuries)

Guillermo Villa was across the street about to charge his Tesla SUV when he heard the explosion.

Villa said he saw light and then a cloud of debris before "I started seeing pieces of the building falling on my head."

"I went underneath my car because there was so much debris flying," he told ABC News. "It was like raining pieces of roof, wall, bricks."

That's when he saw people running and shouting.

(MORE: 1 dead, 17 injured from fiery explosion in Durham, North Carolina: Officials)

"I was afraid," Villa said. "I thought it was a terrorist attack at the beginning."

But Villa said he's grateful he escaped without a scratch.

"It was so close ... I am blessed," he said. "I cannot believe nothing happened to me."

One witness told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG that a huge flash of light "lit up the whole sky."

"It was loud," the witness said. "This surpassed fireworks ... your ears were ringing.

"It just looks like an apocalypse," she added.

All businesses in the area are shut down until fire crews deem it safe to return, Plantation police said.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos, Victor Oquendo, Scott Withers and Jason Volack contributed to this report.


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