Gas Explosion at Florida Jail Kills 2 Inmates, Injures 150

An apparent gas explosion at a jail in Pensacola, Fla. killed at least two inmates and injured as many as 150 prisoners and corrections officers Wednesday night, according to state officials.

The huge blast, which could be heard from seven miles away, took place at the Escambia County Jail's Central Booking Facility at about 11 p.m. CDT Wednesday night.

"There was a big flash that lit up the whole sky and the whole area shook for what felt like a good five seconds," James McLean, who works at a gas station near the jail, told NBC News.

Kathleen Castro, Escambia County's public information manager, who said she lives about a mile and a half from the jail, told CBS News the explosion "sounded like someone drove into my house."

About 600 inmates were housed in the jail at the time, according to Castro, who said building's second and fourth floors partially collapsed after the explosion. The building was quickly evacuated, and the injured were rushed to five local hospitals.

Pensacola was hit with heavy flooding earlier Wednesday, though authorities aren't yet clear if that was a factor in the explosion.

[Image via AP]