Jan 24, 2020
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Explosion at Houston Plant Rattles the City, Injuring at Least One Person

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One person was injured after a large explosion in Houston jolted residents of the city from their beds in the early hours of Friday morning, blowing out windows and scattering debris across the area, according to local reports.

The Houston Police said in a tweet that a building explosion took place at the 4500 block of Gessner Road in the city’s northwest, adding that traffic would be blocked in the area. The site of the explosion is near a number of industrial sites. But the police made no immediate mention of the cause of the explosion.

One person had been taken to a hospital, the Houston Fire Department said on Twitter. The department’s chief, Samuel Peña, urged residents to “avoid the area” but said there was no order to evacuate.

“We will advise of the possible cause of the explosion as soon as we have concrete info,” he said. The department said in a tweet that a hazardous material team was on the scene.

Footage from local news helicopters flying over the area showed a crumbled building, apparently on an industrial site, burning and surrounded by police and fire vehicles in the early morning darkness. Members of emergency response crews picked their way through wreckage, scanning flashlights over the rubble.

As dawn broke, footage showed a blackened shell of a building near the center of an industrial lot, and crumpled roofs and shorn walls on the structures around it. Smoke still rose from one location.

Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police said that flames and small explosions had continued for some time at the “plant” after the initial explosion. He said that the debris field stretched “about half a mile.”

Nearby residents woke abruptly when the explosion rattled their neighborhood before dawn on Friday, with many describing feeling their homes shake.

“It was pandemonium because we just didn’t know what was going on, it was a rather loud explosion,” one unnamed local resident told Houston news outlet ABC13 Eyewitness News, which was broadcasting from the scene about an hour after the explosion.

He pointed to the cracked window of his house behind him, but he said that no one inside had been hurt.

Another Houston resident, Joey Charpentier, said a camera mounted on his window captured the moment of the explosion and posted the video on Twitter: It showed a ball of flames erupting in the distance, past the trees of a yard. He noted that the camera was knocked down when the blast shattered the window.

Mike Iscovitz, a meteorologist for the local Fox news station, shared an image from the outlet’s radar feed that recorded the moment of the explosion as a brief but widespread flash across much of the Houston area.

Crowds of pajama-clad neighbors gathered on the streets as they surveyed the damage. A number of garage doors appeared bent and battered and the windows of some houses shattered.

Footage from other news outlets filming on Gessner Road show debris, some of it on fire, scattered across the road.

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