TAMPA — Brooke Edwards was sitting on the couch in her second-floor apartment at the Oaks at Woodland Park apartments, watching Care Bears with her 2-year-old niece, when she heard a tremendous explosion.
“The whole ground shook,” said Edwards, 22, a fashion design student. “I see a barbecue flying through the air from my window — the whole grill hood part. It went up about six feet. Stone blew up around it. Concrete was flying everywhere.”
Emma Edwards, her niece, was shook up.
“She kept saying, ‘It go boom; it go boom,” Edwards said.
As Edwards stayed with her niece, her older sister, Ashley Edwards, 24, ran outside and saw a woman on the ground.
“Her pants were ripped,” said Ashley Edwards. “They had singe holes. Her right arm was dislocated. There was blood coming out of her nose.”
The Edwards sisters, who have shared an apartment for about two years, had witnessed what Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies say was an explosion of unknown origin at the grill, recently installed just outside the apartment complex clubhouse.
Emergency personnel quickly responded to the apartment complex at 4747 W. Waters Ave. One person was taken to Tampa General Hospital, deputies say.
Investigators late Monday afternoon were trying to determine the cause of the explosion and had not identified the two people injured.
Brooke Edwards said the woman on the ground was the mother of a 13-year-old girl who was having a birthday party. The teen also was injured, said the Edwards sisters, who do not know the victims’ names or how badly they were injured.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue later reported both victims had flash burns and the adult had a broken arm. None of the injuries was life-threatening.
As many as 15 people were around the grill when it exploded, Brooke Edwards said. “I’m glad it wasn’t worse,” she said.
Hours after the explosion, the extent of the damage still was evident. Two silver hoods were strewn several feet from where the pit, made of stone and concrete blocks, had been. The blast pushed one block forward several feet. Chunks of broken stone were heaped around it.
More than a dozen hotdogs, a hamburger and other food, as well as tongs and a plastic spatula, were scattered nearby.
There have been problems with the grill in the past, Ashley Edwards said. About two weeks ago, she said, her father had difficulty lighting it. “The ignitor wasn’t working,” Ashley Edwards said, “so he had to light a piece of palm frond to ignite it.”
County records show the The Oaks at Woodland Park apartments is owned by Inwood Park Owner of Tampa LLC, a Des Moines, Iowa, company. A call to the management office was not immediately returned late Monday afternoon.
The Edward sisters said they are in the process of moving out of the complex.
“Not a moment too soon,” said Brooke Edwards. “I’m still pretty shook up.”