184 Injured, 2 Dead from Explosion at Florida Jail

Engineers are assessing the damage May 1 after an explosion at the Escambia County Detention Facility in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo: Tony Gilberson, Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal)
Engineers are assessing the damage May 1 after an explosion at the Escambia County Detention Facility in Pensacola, Fla.
(Photo: Tony Gilberson, Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal)

State and federal officials are investigating the cause of an explosion that killed two inmates and injured 184 at a northwest Florida jail.

Three inmates missing in the chaos after the apparent gas explosion late Wednesday at the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Center here are now accounted for, officials said Thursday.

Two inmates, whose names have not been released, died in the blast at about 11 p.m. CT Wednesday, county Sheriff David Morgan said. They were found in the same area of the jail surrounded with debris.

A total of 184 detainees and corrections officers were injured; two male inmates and a corrections officer remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon, county spokesman Bill Pearson said.

The explosion, which is believed to have originated in a rear laundry room on the first floor, severely damaged a portion of the jail, and the explosion rattled houses up to 3 miles away. County officials had to evacuate about 600 inmates to secure facilities and worked for much of the day with state and federal agencies to account for all who were in the jail at the time of the explosion.

WEDNESDAY: Severe flooding swamps Florida Panhandle, Alabama

“The explosion shook us so hard it was like we were in an earthquake,” Monique Barnes, an inmate who said she was knocked off her fourth-floor bunk, told The Associated Press by phone after she was moved.

The first floor of the building is likely irreparably damaged, Morgan said. The jail’s basement had flooded during Wednesday’s rains, and a retention wall inside the jail compound had collapsed earlier in the day because of flood damage.

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Source: USA Today | T.S. Strickland, Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal

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