Fire official: 6 hurt in South Florida high-rise explosion

AP News
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Posted: Oct 02, 2015 4:48 PM

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A penthouse boiler room exploded because of a gas leak Friday at a 33-story high-rise near Miami, injuring at least six people, fire officials said.

The explosion happened around noon on the top floor of the Château Beach Residences, a 33-story oceanfront building under construction in Sunny Isles Beach. Debris fell to the ground below, and onto the pool deck of the one-story Monaco Oceanfront Resort next door. There were several large holes in the wall atop the building.

Nuria Serrano, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman, said four people were injured in the explosion. Three sent to the hospital for treatment of possible serious injuries and the other was treated and released. Two firefighters also were injured. One was taken to a hospital and the other was treated at the scene.

There were no reports of missing persons but fire rescue teams were doing a second sweep of the building to make sure no one was trapped inside. Officials said 78 units responded to the fire.

Two construction workers were rescued unharmed after being stuck in an elevator for a short time, said fire rescue spokeswoman Michelle Fayed.

The explosion happened in a boiler room on top of the building.

Yomer Vega, an air conditioning worker who was working alongside two plumbers described the scene to The Associated Press. "I just heard the boom and then I ran to the stairwell," Vega said.

"All of the sheet metal and ductwork everywhere was falling," the construction worker said. "There was water going everywhere. I saw blocks and walls falling next to me," Vega added, before being pulled away by lawyers and his bosses.

A construction worker who was working in another area of the building said he heard two explosions.

"I saw one of the laborers, they had him on a stretcher because he got hit by falling debris," said Clem Fleming, 35. "It got your heart racing. My heart was pumping, pumping, pumping."

More than a dozen fire trucks were still outside the building Friday afternoon, and a portion of Collins Avenue was closed to traffic. Sunny Isles Beach is about 20 miles north of Miami.

The damaged building, which has been under construction for several years, offers condos ranging from 1,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet, according to the developer's website.

Aerial video from Miami television stations showed a large portion of sand on the beach in front of the building was discolored because of the debris.

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This story has been corrected to show that the public information officer's name is Nuria Serrano, not Muria.