Two weeks ago, Manvel was rocked with what was possibly a sonic boom. It became the talk of the town as many people heard it or were awakened by it. Now imagine a real explosion right across the street from your house and the shock is enough to blow out windows and doors. This is what happened this morning in Northwest Houston at the 4500 block of Gessner. Just around 4:25 this morning a manufacturing plant exploded and the explosion was so violent it was picked up on weather radar. The plant is literally across the street from a neighborhood in which many houses suffered severe damage. The Houston Fire Department responded to a report of house collapse 5 minutes after the explosion. It is unclear at this point if a house actually collapsed or if it was sheetrocks and objects falling. At the moment there is a report of one person injured and one unaccounted for. If the count stays as is, it would be a miracle due to all the damage assessed so far. The aftermath would have probably been worse if this had happened during the daytime as much debris was scattered in the area. The Houston Fire Department is still assessing damage and shelters have been opened for people for which their house might be deemed unsafe. The shockwave was felt over a large area, many miles, around the plant.
The company, Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2013 for violations related to the control of hazardous energy and wiring problems. Cy-Fair ISD has closed some schools in the area as the investigation is ongoing regarding the cause of this massive explosion. Most of these incidents are accidental but often ruled avoidable after the fact. It is important that we keep the pressure on our elected officials so we can have the assurance that plants that are in or around neighborhoods are as safe as possible.