Residents in northwest Houston were left rattled following a massive explosion that rocked the city in the wee hours of Friday morning. According to USA Today, the blast was reported at a warehouse owned by the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing company at around 4:30 a.m. Reports say this company is involved in the manufacturing and refurbishing of plastic pallets. Houston police later confirmed that the explosion took place at the 4500 block of Gessner Road — a location where there are several other industrial plants.
Officials from the Houston Fire Department suspect that the explosion was the result of a gas leak. The cause of the blast, however, will only be revealed after a thorough investigation. They went on to add that the warehouse is still spewing Polypropylene gas due to a faulty valve. Efforts are reportedly in progress to shut off this valve to ensure no further damage is caused.
The emergency crew has cordoned off the entire area, and no traffic is being allowed to pass through a temporary exclusion zone. Currently, two people are confirmed dead following the explosion. A New York Times report has confirmed that at least one person was injured as well. Debris from the explosion was scattered across a half-mile radius, a senior official from the fire department said.
HFD Hazmat responding to the area near 4500 block of Gessner. Firefighters responding to reports of an explosion. One person has been transported to the hospital from that area. @FireChiefofHFD
— Houston Fire Dept (@HoustonFire) January 24, 2020
The effects of the massive explosion were felt across a wide area and resulted in several broken windows and debris was scattered across the region. A local resident identified as Mark Brady was quoted saying that the explosion was powerful enough to knock him out of his bed.
“It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here … and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in.”
Another local resident who had a camera mounted on his window was able to capture the moment the explosion took place. He posted the footage on Twitter, which showed a ball of fire erupting in the distance. Toward the end of the footage, the camera is also knocked down by the shock wave.
— Joey Charpentier (@BattleNub19) January 24, 2020
The true scale of the damage caused by the explosion became evident by daybreak after footage aired from local helicopters showed the warehouse in a crumbled state and still on fire. The footage also showed emergency workers trying to make their way in through the wreckage to look for any other casualties. The latest explosion in Houston is perhaps the biggest one reported in recent times. In 2010, a similar incident claimed three lives in northwestern Texas.