Everyone has been accounted for after a powerful explosion ripped through the Escambia County Jail in Florida, killing two inmates and injuring many others.  Sheriff David Morgan said the jail, which partially collapsed, is likely a “total loss”.

Officials originally thought 3 inmates were missing and issued a BOLO alert (be on the lookout), but after a recount realized no one was missing.  The building was rocked by what is believed to be a natural gas explosion.  Initial reports that law enforcement made two sweeps through the building were inaccurate.  Deputies had a difficult time searching the structurally unsafe building.  The building had sustained flooding damage last week after torrential rains.  It is unclear if that contributed to the explosion.

The explosion took place near the booking area in the medium-security facility.  The ceiling and part of a wall collapsed.  600 inmates were in jail at the time, nearby hospitals are treating about 155 patients, most with minor injuries.

The Florida Fire Marshal’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is investigating, which is routine.  Inmates who were not hospitalized or who have been released have been moved to other jails in the area.  The identities of the deceased were not released.

One mother confronted Sheriff Morgan at the press conference, angrily telling him she was unable to learn the fate of her son and that prison officials are insensitive to family members.  Morgan said they were doing the best they could.  Another woman told WALA of her anger, “We don’t know if they’re dead or alive…I can’t sleep not knowing if my child’s OK…”

People housed in county jails are usually either awaiting trial due to accusations against them or have been convicted of minor offenses, such as drug possession.


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