FORT WORTH, Texas — Twenty-one people were injured in an explosion at a downtown Fort Worth hotel on Monday afternoon, officials said.
There have been no confirmed fatalities, according to officials.
Fort Worth Fire Department Public Information Officer Craig Trojacek said during a press conference that officers received a structure fire call at 810 Houston St. at 3:32 p.m., where the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel is located. After that, they received multiple calls about a type of explosion.
Trojacek said they were investigating to confirm if there was a gas leak as a strong smell of gas was reported downtown. But it’s unclear if the smell was caused by the explosion itself or if it caused the explosion. He also said there were reports the explosion started in the restaurant of the hotel, Musume, and that there was some construction being done at the restaurant, but FWFD was not 100% sure where the explosion started at this time.
FWFD officials said in a tweet that that explosion was likely caused by a gas leak but are still waiting to confirm. Police said they closed off a two-block radius around the hotel.
Of the patients, only one was critical, four had serious injuries, and the rest suffered minor injuries. One hotel employee was missing but was later found, police said. However, during their search for the employee, police also found another person amongst the debris.
Search-and-rescue operations continued through Monday night and Tuesday morning with specially-trained canines. As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, no additional victims were located.
The Fort Worth Fire Department released photos of the search-and-rescue efforts on Tuesday morning:
In an update on Tuesday, Fort Worth police said street closures were put into place along Houston Street from Seventh Street to Ninth Street, along Throckmorton Street from Seventh Street to Ninth Street and along Eighth Street from Houston Street to Main Street. Police determined this area as the “hot zone” and asked the public to avoid this area. This area will be shut down for days, according to FWPD. Police have set up a hotline for anyone who works in the immediate area to call for more information: (817)392-8866.
Fort Worth police said they’re working closely with the officials of the Fort Worth Stock Show parade and the MLK Day parade to best ensure everyone is safe for those events.
Atmos Energy also responded and released a statement saying their technicians responded to a call at the building at the request of FWFD.
“Gas has been isolated to the affected area, and we will continue to assist the Fort Worth Fire and Police Departments and all officials in support of their investigation,” Atmos said in a statement.
The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in Texas, also said in a statement they were sending an inspector to the scene of the explosion to investigate.
Mayor Mattie Parker said during a press conference on Monday that the building had just been recently renovated and reopened.
“It’s heartbreaking for Downtown Fort Worth, of course,” Parker said. “Our hearts and prayers are with the victims at area hospitals.”
David Brymer lives eight blocks away from the hotel and said he was in bed when the explosion went off.
“It shook my bed,” Brymer said.
He said he then made his way toward the site and could hear sirens nonstop.
“You could smell the gas in the air,” Brymer said. “I thought it was an earthquake.”
Brymer said he didn’t hear anything, just felt a strong shake.
“I hope the building doesn’t fall and hope everyone’s OK,” Brymer said.
Josh Babb, the co-founder of Musume, said all of the restaurants were devastated by the explosion at the hotel, the home of their restaurant.
“Luckily, Musume was closed during the time of the explosion, so we had no customers dining and limited employees working,” Babb said in a statement.
Three Musume employees were injured, Babb said, but were being treated at a hospital and in stable condition.
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