A criminal investigation is underway after an explosion early Friday morning in Houston has left a warehouse completely leveled, and two are dead from the blast.
The explosion left several surrounding buildings damaged, and people well over a mile away both heard and felt the blast. Right now, criminal involvement is not suspected, but police are looking closely at the matter.
The explosion itself occurred inside of a building at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, a company that provides a thermal-spray coating for equipment and makes valves used for a variety of industrial purposes.
This part of the US has the highest concentration of oil refineries in the nation, and is no stranger to explosions – in July, more than a dozen people were injured after an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery happened just east of Houston.
The building that exploded was completely leveled, with witnesses saying that there was just “rubble” left of it. The surrounding buildings were heavily damaged, and it’s unclear as of now how much structural damage was really done.
Twitter was ablaze this morning with residents near the blast area that felt or heard the explosion. Several people shared pictures of shattered windows or items knocked from shelves.
Danny Wilson, 63, was sleeping next to his wife when she woke him up. “She heard a big noise … she said it was some kind of explosion or somebody was trying to get in.”
— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) January 24, 2020
“I didn’t notice any broken glass and I looked at the back window and it was shattered big time.”
One resident caught this incredible footage and shared it on social media, which shows just how massive this explosion really was.
— Joey Charpentier (@BattleNub19) January 24, 2020
Police say they are not evacuating anyone at this time. Air quality is also fine.
Still, many residents are posting on social media that they are being asked to leave their houses until the integrity of the structure can be confirmed.
This is still an active scene. Avoid the area.
No evacuation order given at this time.
— Chief Samuel Peña (@FireChiefofHFD) January 24, 2020
The explosion lit up the weather radar, which is highly unusual. Those who saw the radar report initially thought a meteor had made impact with the city.
In all my years, I’ve never seen this on our local radar. A giant explosion occurred just before 4:30am this morning in Northwest Houston and was felt more than 20 miles away. Radar clearly shows this brief FLASH of reflectivity from NW Houston. #explosion #Houston #Radar pic.twitter.com/6XJ5Wa5P0K
— Mike Iscovitz (@Fox26Mike) January 24, 2020
No word on the identities of the two that have lost their lives yet, but at this time it is believed they were employees of the company.
Police have asked those living in the area to check their neighborhood and yard for any debris, including body parts, that may have traveled during the explosion.