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LIVE: Multiple fatalities after massive blast in NW Houston-UPDATE


Massive explosion in NW Houston.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — One person is missing and multiple fatalities were reported after a massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning and the blast was felt across the region.

It happened around 4:25 a.m. in the 4500 block of Gessner Rd. It wasn’t clear if the missing person was a worker at the facility where it happened or was a resident who lived nearby.

One resident who lived in a neighborhood near the blast site was transported to a hospital, authorities said.

There are two confirmed fatalities, according to Houston police chief Art Acevedo.

Witnesses told ABC13 they saw two injured people walk out of the debris field moments after the blast. It wasn’t clear if they were part of the official casualty count.

The largest debris field and damage is in the area between Gessner and Steffani Lane in the Westbranch neighborhood.

Entire structures were destroyed in the blast. Homes were blown off their foundations in the adjoining neighborhood, authorities said.

Broken windows, doors, and garage doors were also reported across a wide area around the blast site.

The ATF was responding to the site, though the Houston Fire Dept. will remain the lead agency, according to ATF spokesperson Nicole Strong.

Firefighters were walking door to door in a neighborhood next to the apparent blast site. Crews were being advised to move away from the area as the response continued.

The origin of the explosion was at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, a machining and manufacturing company, according to its website.

There was no evidence of terrorism or that the cause of the explosion was intentional, according to Acevedo.

The owner of the facility told Eyewitness News the explosion originated from a propylene tank. Propylene is an extremely flammable gas that is used to make a variety of products.

Two Cy-Fair ISD schools, Bane Elementary School and Dean Middle School, were closed Friday after the explosion. Spring Branch ISD remained open, but will keep students inside due to air quality concerns, according to a statement from school district officials.

“In an abundance of precaution, students will remain indoors at nearby schools due to air quality concerns. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on the website and social media as they become available,” Cy-Fair ISD officials told ABC13.

Shelters have been set up near the area for residents who were forced out of the their homes. Approximately 200 homes were impacted, some of them sustained massive structural damage.

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