More than 100 inmates were injured and two are confirmed dead following an apparent gas explosion Wednesday night at Florida’s Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Facility in the 1100 block of West Leonard Street, said Escambia County Fire Chief Steve Booth.
The explosion took place between 11:30 pm and midnight Wednesday and shook houses for several blocks, according to Kathleen Dough-Castro, the Public Information Officer for Escambia County.
Dough-Castro said to ABC News about 600 uninjured prisoners were transferred by bus to other area detention facilities and no prisoners were reported to have escaped during the chaos.
Castro-Dough would not go on record to say if flooding in the area was a factor in the prison’s explosion, but as reported in UTSandiego.com, she did say the jail had extensive flooding during heavy rains that drenched the region Tuesday and Wednesday.
“There was an apparent gas explosion in the central booking area of the Escambia County jail,” Escambia County Public Information Officer Kathleen Dough-Castro said during a news briefing. “We had approximately 600 prisoners in the facility at the time. Injured prisoners are being transported under guard to area hospitals. Uninjured prisoners are being transported to other detention facilities in Escambia County as well as Santa Rosa County,” she said.
Pensacola News Journal reported that more than a dozen ambulances carried victims to area hospitals after being removed from the facility on stretchers.
Sacred Heart Hospital spokesman Mike Burke said early Thursday morning that 31 people were brought to the hospital by ambulances, and all suffered non-life threatening injuries. Burke also said law enforcement officers were at the hospital providing security as the inmates were being treated.
In the aftermath of the deadly explosion, there was a partial building collapse; a roof fell in and the walls are now too unstable for the building to be inhabited.
[Photo Credit: North Escambia]