Around 4:15 A.M. on Friday, January 24, 2020, Houston Police Department began receiving calls about a massive explosion in Northwest Houston. The explosion occurred in a building at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, which makes valves and provides thermal-spray coatings for equipment in various industries. The effects of the blast could be felt as far as half a mile away and many buildings were damaged. Reports came in that over 200 homes were damaged in the blast, and many more felt it. At one man's home about 1/4 mile away, glass doors were shattered, ceilings were cracked, and the lid of his toilet was even torn off.
A fire burned at the site for hours, and there was a potential for toxic fumes to build up in the air. First responders of the explosion have been instructed to get checked out to ensure that they are fully healthy and did not inhale any toxic fumes. Currently, one factory worker is missing, two workers died en route to the hospital and many more have suffered injuries. The search team cannot begin looking for the missing person, because the plant is currently releasing polypropylene, a type of polymer that is used on most plastics. The chemical, however, is not toxic.
Southeast Texas has seen numerous explosions in recent years all occurring along the Texas Coast, which is home to the highest concentration of oil refineries in the United States. In July 2019, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, Texas left more than a dozen people with minor injuries. In December, two blasts in the coastal city of Port Neches shattered windows and ripped the doors from nearby homes. As the investigation continues, more facts will be brought to light.
Reporter: Myles Witte