A worker remains missing after a large explosion at an apparent industrial building in Houston early Friday scattered debris across the area, shattered windows and sent another person to the hospital.
At about 4:30 a.m., many people reported hearing a loud explosion and felt buildings shake in the Northwest Houston neighborhood. Police and fire crews responding to the scene went house-to-house to let about 300 residents know to shelter in place, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference.
One person was taken to a hospital because of the blast, the Houston Fire Department said.
There have been no reports of hazardous atmospheres 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.
A fire continued to burn at the site hours after the explosion. People were told to avoid the area, but no evacuation orders were given.
This is still an active scene. Avoid the area.
No evacuation order given at this time.
— Chief Samuel Peña (@FireChiefofHFD) January 24, 2020
Video from the scene showed broken windows, broken garage doors and debris scattered throughout the neighborhood.
“The whole house is ruined,” one resident told KPRC, describing how she woke up with the roof falling down on her. “The whole ceiling crashed down on all of us. We were all trapped in there and a nice family came and helped up out. it’s trashed. It’s just trashed.”
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said the explosion was so strong it was captured on radar.
— Jeff Lindner (@JeffLindner1) January 24, 2020
Streets in the affected area were blocked off by police.
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.
See video and pics here: https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/texas-news/large-explosion-reported-in-west-houston/2297593/