Houston building blast shakes city, scatters debris

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Houston building blast shakes city, scatters debris

HOUSTON —
A large explosion at an apparent industrial building in Houston early Friday left rubble scattered in the area, damaged homes and was felt for kilometres away.

One person was taken to a hospital because of the blast, the Houston Fire Department said. A fire continued to burn at the site hours after the explosion and people were told to avoid the area.

The explosion, which appeared to be centred on an industrial building, shook other buildings about 4:30 a.m., with reports on Twitter of a boom felt across the city.

Houston police tweeted that officers were blocking off streets in the area. Police said people should avoid the area, but no evacuation has been ordered. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said first responders were checking on residents of nearby homes.

Several people told Houston TV station KHOU that the explosion was so loud, they thought a bomb had gone off or that a vehicle had crashed into their homes. At one man’s home about 1/4 mile (0.4 kilometres) away, glass doors were shattered, ceilings were cracked, and the lid of his toilet was even torn off, the station reported.

Southeast Texas has seen a series of explosions in recent years up and down the Texas Gulf Coast, which is home to the highest concentration of oil refineries in the nation. Last July, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown left more than dozen people with minor injuries and put nearby residents under a shelter-in-place advisory for three hours.

In December, two blasts in the coastal city of Port Neches shattered windows and ripped the doors from nearby homes.

Building Explosion 4500 Gessner: HPD command post at Tanner @ Gessner. All traffic avoid hot zone between Gessner, Genard, Sefani & Clay Rd. #houtraffic #hounews CC8

— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 24, 2020

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