Escambia County Jail in Pensacola, Florida, Hit by Deadly Blast
At least two inmates died and more than 150 other people were injured when an apparent gas explosion collapsed part of a county jail in the Florida panhandle late Wednesday, officials said.
The blast occurred at the Escambia County Jail’s Central Booking Facility in Pensacola at around 11 p.m. local time (midnight Thursday ET), officials said.
Kathleen Castro, the county’s public information officer, confirmed the deaths to NBC News and said that both prisoners and corrections officials were among the wounded.
About 600 prisoners were in the building at the time. Uninjured inmates were being moved to other detention facilities, authorities added.
James McLean, who works at the Circle K gas station just a few hundred feet away, said the blast felt like an earthquake.
“There was a big flash that lit up the whole sky and the whole area shook for what felt like a good five seconds,” he told NBC News.
The injured were transported to five local hospitals for treatment.
“All of them have been seen in our ER, treated, and released back into custody,” Kendrick Doidge told NBC News.
Sacred Heart Hospital said it treated 31 patients with minor injuries such as abrasions and neck pain.
Primary and secondary sweeps of the facility were completed by 1:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET) but search and rescue crews were continuing to work in the building, according to officials.
Pensacola had been hit by severe floods earlier in the day. It was not immediately clear if that was a factor in the explosion.