There are no reports of hazardous materials in the air
A worker is missing and another person hurt after the large explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing in Houston early Friday which damaged buildings, scattered debris and sent a loud boom across the city. The Houston Fire Department said one person was taken to a hospital because of the blast. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday morning that one person was unaccounted for.
Police and fire crews went house-to-house to let about 300 residents know to shelter in place, Acevedo said. Authorities did not order an evacuation.
There have been no reports of hazardous gas in the air, Fire Chief Samuel Peña said. At about 7:30 a.m., fire crews were securing the pipes that supply product to the building so investigators can get closer to the scene.
Acevedo told residents to stay away from the area. Nearby schools are closed so they can monitor and access the situation.
Mayor Sylvester Turner has been briefed on the situation as he is in Washington D.C., Acevedo said.
It’s not immediately clear what caused the explosion.
Nearby residents reported doors being blown off their hinges, baseboards blown off and storm doors shattered, according to Houston ABC station KTRK. The force of the blast rattled windows for miles around.
Multiple structures appeared to be destroyed in the blast and the explosion left an enormous pile of debris in the area between Gessner Road and Steffani Lane in Houston’s Westbranch neighborhood, according to KTRK.
The owner of the business, John Watson of Watson Grinding, says the blast was a propylene gas explosion.
Two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, he said.
Southeast Texas has seen a series of explosions in recent years up and down the Texas Gulf Coast, which is home to the highest concentration of oil refineries in the nation. Last July, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown left more than a dozen people with minor injuries and put nearby residents under a shelter-in-place advisory for three hours.
In December, two blasts in the coastal city of Port Neches shattered windows and ripped the doors from nearby homes.
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