You don’t need explosives to have an explosion. About 100 casino goers learned that lesson on Monday morning in Hollywood, Florida. Doctors are betting that most of the 22 injured people will be just fine but a couple are in dicey condition at the hospital.
Freak casino explosion
The last thing gamblers at Seminole Classic Casino were expecting Monday morning, September 13, was an explosion. It wasn’t a robbery, just maintenance gone wrong. Nobody expected the safety equipment to be so dangerous.
The culprit has been identified as a “compressor tank” but it wasn’t one of those you use to run power tools or air up your tires. It was part of the fire suppression system.
Around 10:30 a.m., casino employees were installing the equipment in “the attic.” As oblivious patrons tried their best to strike it rich or at least not lose the rent, crews “were in the process of [reconnecting the system], had finished and reconnected the hoses to the system, when one of them ruptured and caused three of the tanks to instantly empty.”
“Pieces of it, actually, combusted, and it pushed other items around in the area where it was, because it was powerful.”
It was powerful alright. Gary Bitner, a casino spokesperson, explained that as “the tank blew, drywall in the ceiling was knocked out and caused injuries.”
Immediately, the building was evacuated and most of the injured treated and assessed in the parking lot with only minor injuries. Two of the victims were transported to a nearby hospital and their condition hasn’t been released.
They all were ‘lucky’
Bitner noted that the casino was “lucky” that “there was no one so close as to be seriously injured.” They were hooking up the fire suppression system and it was all part of “routine maintenance.” What patrons heard was “the explosion and loud boom.”
A contributing factor, he notes, is that it “happened in an area where there is a lot of equipment.” The explosion “damaged that area and injured some people in that confined area.” It also blew out part of the wall and “that caused injury to some people” on the gaming floor.
The spot where the blast happened isn’t accessible to the public but “debris was sent flying” across the main floor of the casino.
Eyewitness Keith Richards told local news “it was an extremely loud explosion. Like a transformer burst. It was a very loud sound. You see all those fibers falling from the drywall.” His guess puts the crowd at about 100 when it happened.
Another witness on the scene, Rainier Hernandez, confirms that he was in the casino when suddenly there was a “big explosion, and everybody got out and started running.
“It got all dark like smoke, getting all the fiber from the walls. I don’t even know what is that,” another patron chimed in. “Like a big bomb, like a bomb went off.” The woman was “near the spot where the drywall came down.”