Massive Industrial Plant Explosion Kills 2
At 4:24 am on Friday, January 24th, a massive explosion at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility at 4500 Gessner in near northwest Houston killed at least 2 people and possibly more. A nearby resident was also injured and taken to an area hospital in undetermined condition. A search is underway for additional victims and plant officials are busy trying to account for all the personnel on site before the tragedy occurred. According to HFD fire fighters on the scene, the explosion was caused by the ignition of propylene and liquid nitrogen, which are components of poly propylene. But, agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATFE), the FBI, Texas HazMat, Houston’s bomb squad and ATF and HFD arson investigators are all on the scene to examine blast evidence and commence a thorough joint investigation. At a 9:00 am news conference, an HFD spokesperson stated that terrorism does not seem to be a factor, but as of yet the valves controlling the explosion chemicals have not be turned off because of the extensive structural damage surrounding them, so until that’s done little investigating can be accomplished.
Large portions of the plant were completely demolished and numerous neighboring businesses and residences were extensively damaged. Although a shelter in place order is currently in effect, lingering chemicals in the air have not been detected. However, all first responders on the scene are wearing face masks and those in the center of the blast site are wearing breathing apparatus. In a particularly grim acknowledgement of the size and force of the explosion, area residents were warned that they may find large chunks of wreckage, explosion debris and even human body parts in their yards or on rooftops and they have been asked to not touch such items and to call the HPD for proper removal.
Bane Elementary and Dean Middle School in the Cy Fair ISD are closed today and the Spring Branch ISD reported delays in bus transportation in the affected area. All lanes of Gessner between Tanner and Clay are closed until further notice. A shelter has been set up at Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Red Cross has mobile relief units in the area. The HPD has stepped up patrols in the area to prevent looting and officers are currently going door-to-door to check on residents. Needless to say, several media helicopters are flying in and around the area to monitor on-going events.
If you or a loved one was injured or suffered property damage in this tragic event, or if you are ever injured in a similar event, please consider calling us. We have dealt with such incidents for a very long time and we are experts at it.