Investigators: Escambia County Jail explosion due to natural gas, say it appears unintentional

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Investigators say a Florida Panhandle jail explosion appears to have been caused by natural gas.

Investigators said Friday that they have finished their work inside the crumbling Escambia County Jail. The Florida fire marshal and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will continue their investigation off site. The agencies said it appears that the explosion was unintentional, but they would not specify whether it was caused by a gas leak.

Numerous inmates said they smelled gas in the hours before the explosion, but the county says it had no official reports of a gas leak before the blast.

Two inmates died and a corrections officer was paralyzed. Nearly 200 other people were injured.

Criminal negligence charges could be filed if investigators find jail officials were grossly negligent.

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