An early-morning explosion at a manufacturing business in northwest Houston jolted people from their sleep and scattered debris as far as a half mile away, sending at least one person to the hospital, officials said Friday morning.
The explosion at around 4:15 a.m. local time Friday morning damaged nearby buildings and left smoke hanging over the area, The Associated Press reported.
At least one person is missing after the detonation at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters. Two people were confirmed to have died in the blast. Officials said they had no reason to believe terrorism was involved or whether the explosion was an intentional act of any kind.
Video posted to Twitter showed what appeared to be a fireball rising from the apparent the blast site.
However, firefighters have not yet been able to search the site for the the missing worker because crews have not been able to close valves releasing the chemical, polypropylene, KPRC reported. Polypropylene is a chemical compound that is often used in packaging and labeling. Officials say the compound is lighter than air and expected to dissipate.
Haz mat crews and rescue personnel have searched nearly 200 homes, with some reportedly knocked off their foundation - particular those homes that were closest to the blast site.
"There is some significant damage to a lot of homes that were adjacent to the explosion site," Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena told reporters.
Officials also sought to reassure residents in the area that there was no issue with air quality surrounding the blast site.
"No significant problems with air quality in the area surrounding the industrial site explosion in northwest part of the city, according to @FireChiefofHFD: Propylene dissipates into the air. Please avoid area due to traffic, debris, @HoustonFire response," a tweet from the City of Houston's official account read.
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