Explosion rocks Sun and Surf condo, several cars damaged

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Daily News

By Aleese Kopf and David Rogers

Published October 10, 2015


Bob and Avril Rubin were sound asleep in their fourth-floor unit in the Sun and Surf condominium when it happened.

“It sounded like a bomb went off,” Avril Rubin said. “I thought the balcony collapsed. That’s how loud it was.”

Her husband said he thought it was a transformer blowing.

“I was asleep and it woke me right up,” he said. “Then the fire alarm went off and we all evacuated.”

The condominium, at 130 Sunrise Ave., was rocked by an explosion in the garage around 5:34 a.m. Thursday. The explosion ripped apart a manhole, and sent its cover and brick pavers flying. Several cars were damaged.

Paula Isacoff also was asleep when she heard the explosion.



“At first I thought it was a thunderstorm,” she said. “I hear a big boom and the TV went on and off. It was a major explosion.”

Isacoff said her BMW had a few dents, but nothing major.

Battalion chief Sean Baker said Palm Beach Fire-Rescue responded with six units and 14 firefighters.

“The explosion left a crater in the ground that was 2 feet deep by 7 feet wide,” Baker said. “It rained down pavers and damaged about 20 cars surrounding the explosion. There was another manhole cover found displaced in a resident’s driveway at 160 Sunset.”

“The magnitude of this explosion is very rare for us,” Baker said.

The explosion was electrical in nature. “It was the underground (power) service that goes into the building, the underground vault,” he said.

Florida Power & Light and the state fire marshal’s office are investigating the cause.

Condo president Herbert Krauss is in Connecticut, but is in contact with fellow Sun and Surf residents.

“The good news is no one was injured and the power’s been restored,” he said. Power was returned to the area around 11:40 a.m., he said.

Town Manager Tom Bradford echoed Krauss’ sentiment.

“That was the only silver lining I see. If it happened later in the morning or at lunch time, there could have been a human-injury problem or worse,” Bradford said.

A transformer blowout later Thursday morning near 95 N. County Road, the former Post Office building, is likely related to the electrical explosion. That building is a short distance south of Sunset.

At 7:54 a.m., a call to the town’s communications office reported a downed wire at 95 N. County Road. FPL had a crew on site before 8:40 a.m. Around 9 a.m., a transformer there starting sparking, then caught fire. Some 290 FPL customers on Sunrise Avenue, Sunset Avenue and the surrounding area lost power, according to FPL spokesman Bill Orlove.

Orlove said power was expected to be restored to all customers by 7 p.m.

Baker said it’s logical to believe the incidents are related. “But I can’t make that connection,” Baker said. The state fire marshal was on scene after noon to investigate, Baker said. Several FPL vehicles were still in Palm Beach Thursday afternoon looking at transformers and electrical equipment in the blocks around Sunset.

“There are trucks everywhere,” Baker said. Palm Beach Fire Marshal Tim Pompos will receive a copy of the state fire marshal’s report, Baker said.

The Sun and Surf, built in 1970, is in the midst of a multiyear renovation, including its garage areas.