Explosions rock Miami

A series of gas explosions shook a neighborhood in suburban northwest Miami Wednesday morning.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MIAMI | March 17, 2004

A series of gas explosions shook a neighborhood in suburban northwest Miami Wednesday morning, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air.

The blasts at the Air Gas South gas distribution facility caused no injuries or casualties. A spokeswoman for the Miami Dade Fire Rescue Department said they evacuated a half-mile area around the plant, which includes both businesses and residences. The facility houses hundreds of gas tanks filled with chemicals such as liquid nitrogen, all of which were threatened by the initial explosions and fire.

The exploded gas was acetylene, which is non-toxic, but the fire rescue spokeswoman said they are still unsure when they will let people back into the area. Firefighters are on the scene and say the fire is contained, but is burning too hot for them to get close enough to fully extinguish it.

An incident report recently released by the Florida Division of Emergency Management stated that a series of 24 blasts followed the initial explosion Wednesday morning. The cause of the explosions has not yet been determined.

Nearby residents and workers in the neighborhood said the blasts caught them off guard. Church World Service (CWS) Disaster Response and Recovery Liaison Lesli Remaly was attending a meeting at the nearby office of emergency management when the explosions occurred. “I heard about 10 or so blasts, it was just one after another,” she said. “It was startling.”

Remaly said she could also see the smoke from her location and she watched as numerous rescue and fire units were dispatched.

“Thankfully no one was hurt,” she said.

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