An explosion at a jail in the Florida panhandle killed two inmates Wednesday night and injured between 100 and 150 other prisoners and corrections officers, according to county officials.
It appears that a gas explosion in the Escambia County Central Booking Facility at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday rocked the area and caused a partial building collapse, the county said early Thursday morning.
There were about 600 prisoners in the building in Pensacola at the time and an unknown number of corrections officers or other jail employees. Two male inmates were killed. The inmates who were not injured are being moved to other facilities in Escambia or nearby Santa Rosa County, while the injured people have been taken to area hospitals. Family members seeking information on relatives should call the county’s citizen information line at 850-471-6600.
Escambia, home to Pensacola, is in the far western portion of the Florida panhandle near the border with Alabama.
Heavy flooding had been a major problem in the county on Wednesday, with “obscene and devastating amounts of rainfall” reported in the region. A state of emergency had been declared in Escambia, with multiple roads and bridges closed due to the rain.
The jail had seen heavy flooding on Wednesday, a prison official told the Pensacola News Journal, but it’s unclear if that caused the explosion.
This post has been updated. Most recent update: 1:11 p.m.