Explosion Impact Seconds From Disaster Puerto Rico Gas Explosion Documentary
The Humberto Vidal explosion (sometimes also referred to as the Río Piedras explosion) was a gas explosion that occurred on November 21, 1996 at the Humberto Vidal shoe store located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. The explosion killed 33 and wounded more than 80 others when the building collapsed. It is considered one of the deadliest disasters to have occurred on the island.
The explosion occurred at about 8:35am, on Thursday, November 21, 1996 in the middle of a bustling commercial sector of Río Piedras. The six-story building that housed the Humberto Vidal shoe store, a jewelry store, a music shop store and the head offices of Humberto Vidal was virtually destroyed and eventually it was demolished.
The immediate theory was that the explosion was caused by a bomb planted by local terrorists or even arson due to previous deliberate acts in the past. However, there was no trace of explosives, nor were there flammable materials an arsonist could have used.
United States President Bill Clinton declared Puerto Rico a disaster area, which ensured the receipt of federal aid to help the victims, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which launched an investigation. San Juan Gas Company, owned by Enron Corporation, denied any responsibility claiming that the building had no gas service at the time of the explosion.