HOUSTON--A massive explosion at a machine shop ripped through a Houston neighbourhood early on Friday morning, killing at least two people and damaging homes while sending out blast waves for miles.
The pre-dawn explosion devastated two working-class neighbourhoods surrounding the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing facility in northwest Houston, leaving behind collapsed and smoldering wreckage on the grounds and knocking several nearby homes off their foundations.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said early indications pointed to a leak of propylene gas, a colorless, flammable, liquefied gas with several industrial uses. But Police Chief Art Acevedo said that was “just a huge assumption” and cautioned that the investigation could take several days, weeks or months.
Officials stressed that they had no reason to believe the explosion was intentionally triggered.
The multi-agency probe will focus primarily on whether any regulatory violations were committed by either Watson Grinding or its vendors, Acevedo said, adding the company was cooperating fully.
While investigators sought to positively identify the two victims, there is a “high probability” they were two men who worked for the company, Acevedo said.
Numerous homes had windows blown in. Others were surrounded by shattered piles of debris.