Dentist near Plantation explosion: 'We all would have died' if office were open

LA Fitness (CBS newspath).JPG
Police working explosion in Plantation. (CBS Newspath)

Dentists, staff and patients at a pediatric dentist office in Plantation are still in shock after a suspected gas pipe explosion destroyed the area of The Fountains shopping plaza Saturday afternoon.

"We all would have died," said Dentist Amanda Buscemi, who works at Kid's Dental Place in Plantation.

Her office is right beside the center of the explosion, and she said it is surreal to look at the extent of the damage.

"Nothing is in its original position," said Buscemi.

Usually, the Kid's Dental Place is open on Saturdays and seeing young patients, but they were closed for the July 4th weekend.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause and exact location of the explosion, but witnesses say it appears to have started in an empty business that used to be a pizza shop.

A spokesperson for TECO Peoples Gas told CBS12 News that the pizza shop is one of their customers, and that they provide natural gas to at least six businesses in the plaza.

While investigators discovered a ruptured gas line near the area of the explosion, TECO said none of the pipes they maintain leading into the plaza have ruptured.

TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs said it is the customer's responsibility to maintain gas lines inside the building.

Jacobs says the gas company received a call around 11:30 a.m. from a restaurant worker reporting the smell of gas right before the explosion. The energy company says they are only aware of the one call and were in the process of sending out a technician at the time of the explosion.

Fire officials say 23 people were injured in the explosion -- two seriously -- but everyone is expected to survive.

The City of Plantation announced Monday afternoon that the businesses in the plaza have been given approval to open again, but they are warning that debris remains in the parking lot near the explosion site.

Kid's Dental Place is seeing customers at other locations until further notice, and has provided more information on its Facebook page.