Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Law enforcement officers stand in front of the Escambia County Jail after an explosion caused the evacuation of the facility, Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Pensacola, Fla. Two inmates were killed and mote than 100 others were injured in the explosion according to an Escambia County spokeswoman. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
3 Florida inmates missing after jail blast located
Accident » More than 180 other people injured after apparent gas explosion leveled inside of the building.
First Published May 01 2014 09:45 am • Last Updated May 01 2014 07:25 pm

Pensacola, Fla. • An apparent gas explosion rocked a jail in the Florida Panhandle, killing two inmates, injuring as many as 150 people, and creating a chaotic scene Thursday after inmates were bused to hospitals and nearby jails when the crippled building had to be evacuated.

The jail was almost completely destroyed, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference Thursday morning. Three inmates were unaccounted for, and one corrections officer was seriously injured, he said.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Firefighters entered the building Thursday morning. Pieces of glass and brick were strewn about on the ground. The front of the building appeared bowed out, with cracks throughout. Authorities blocked off roads leading to the jail.

"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. "It was like a movie, a horrible, horrible movie."

Barnes said she and others in the jail had complained of smelling gas ahead of the blast late Wednesday, and some reported headaches. Toilets weren’t working, so they had to plastic trash bags, Barnes said.

During the evacuation, hundreds of inmates and corrections officers used one stairwell, "everyone pushing and bleeding," she said.

About 600 inmates — 200 men and 400 women — were in the building at the time, Castro said. Those with injuries were taken to hospitals and the uninjured to jails in neighboring counties, officials said. Castro said authorities did not yet know the extent of injuries, but local hospitals said some with minor issues had already been released.

The Pensacola area was drenched by rains and severely flooded Wednesday as part of a large storm system making its way across the U.S., and Castro said the building was affected. But she said officials did not yet know whether the flooding and explosion were directly related. The generator was running at the time of the blast, but Castro said officials don’t believe that was related.

A couple of blocks from the jail, Ellis Robinson and his family awoke to a loud noise sometime after midnight, their home rattling. "It shook the whole house," he said. "I got up, the dog started barking, people were running up there." He spent the night observing the chaos and watching as inmates were loaded into buses.

Investigators were on the scene. Castro said the fire marshal would ultimately determine the cause.


story continues below
story continues below

The names of the two inmates killed in the explosion weren’t immediately released.

Defense attorney Gene Mitchell stood outside police tape at the jail Thursday morning, reviewing dozens of text messages from clients’ relatives wondering what happened to their loved ones.

"I have over 20 clients in there," he said. "I’ve had dozens of calls. Every other call is a family member wanting to know what has happened to a loved one."

He said he hasn’t been able to get much information about the inmates. Castro said officials were having trouble notifying families because it isn’t safe to enter the jail to access computers and paper records.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.