Two people have died following a large explosion at a manufacturing facility in northwest Houston early Friday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed Friday morning.
The explosion, which occurred around 4:30 a.m. at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility, heavily damaged nearby buildings and homes, left rubble scattered in the area and was felt miles away.
Eighteen people have gone to local emergency rooms, reporting minor injuries from the blast, including breathing problems and cuts, according to the Houston Fire Department. Another 48 people have checked into a Red Cross shelter.
Officials believe the two victims to be male Hispanic employees, but the bodies haven’t been identified yet. Acevedo said there is no evidence that the explosion was intentional, but they will conduct a criminal investigation as part of the process with federal support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Damage to the surrounding neighborhoods
Domingo Duron, who lives in the area, told Houston Public Media he woke up to the sound of the explosion. “I heard explosions, stuff on top of me. I looked out the window and saw a fire going up in the air. When I realized what was going on, I realized my roommates were in the other room and I couldn’t get to them because stuff was everywhere,” he said. “I hollered at them and tried to get everybody and make sure they were okay.”
He said he suffered minor injuries from broken glass. “I thought it was war,” he said. “Thank God we’re still alive, but the house is demolished. I’m cut up all over from the glass.”
Officials say there are about 200 homes in the area surrounding the explosion, which occurred near 4500 Gessner Road, north of Clay. “We’ve assessed between 180, 190 [homes] at this point. The majority of those have received some sort of damage,” said Fire Chief Samuel Peña. “The ones that are more proximal to the area of the blast are damaged heavily, some of them off the foundation.”