Explosion Rocks Downtown Fort Worth Hotel, Leaving 21 Injured
FORT WORTH, Texas — A powerful explosion ripped through a downtown Fort Worth hotel on Monday afternoon, resulting in the injury of twenty-one individuals, officials have confirmed. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported thus far. On Tuesday morning, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) engineer was dispatched to the scene to conduct a thorough inspection of the building.
During the inspection, FEMA deployed their highly trained cadaver dogs to comb through the wreckage in search of any potential victims who may have been trapped. In a statement issued to WFAA, the City of Fort Worth expressed, “Search and rescue operations occurred through the night and continued this morning with specifically trained canines. At this time, no additional victims have been located.” Although no one has been reported missing, authorities emphasize the significance of thoroughly searching and securing the building in light of the incident’s magnitude.
Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis, during a press conference on Tuesday evening, revealed that the decision to involve the State of Texas was made to ensure the structural stability of the building and to employ cadaver dogs in order to ascertain that no one else remained trapped under the debris. “That search concluded this afternoon, an hour ago, and we can confidently say we have no reports of anybody missing at this point,” stated Davis. The next steps are currently being determined, but the affected area is expected to remain closed for several days. Davis also stressed that while there does not appear to be any deliberate intent behind the explosion, the exact cause is yet to be determined. Although the involvement of gas is suspected, it remains unclear whether the gas or the explosion occurred first.
According to Fort Worth Fire Department Public Information Officer Craig Trojacek, officers responded to a structure fire call at 810 Houston St., the location of the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, at approximately 3:32 p.m. Shortly thereafter, multiple reports of an explosion were received. Trojacek disclosed that investigators are working to confirm the presence of a gas leak, as a strong smell of gas was reported in the downtown area. However, it remains uncertain whether the explosion caused the smell or vice versa. Trojacek also revealed that reports indicated the explosion originated in the hotel’s restaurant, Musume, which was undergoing some construction. However, the exact point of origin has yet to be definitively established.
In response to the incident, the police have cordoned off a two-block radius surrounding the hotel. Of the injured individuals, only one is in critical condition, four sustained serious injuries, while the rest suffered minor injuries. Initially, one hotel employee was reported missing, but was later found. However, during the search for this employee, another individual was discovered amidst the debris. Fort Worth Fire Department Chief Davis confirmed that all the victims are believed to be adults, with no children involved. The majority of injuries reported include strains, lacerations, and eye injuries, with the most severe cases being concussion-related, resulting from the force of the blast.
Search-and-rescue operations, employing specially trained canines, persisted throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning. As of 7 a.m. on Tuesday, no additional victims were found. The Fort Worth Fire Department released photos of the search-and-rescue efforts, showcasing the tireless dedication of the responders.
In an update provided on Tuesday, Fort Worth police announced the implementation of street closures 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. These areas have been designated as the “hot zone,” and the public has been urged to avoid them. Authorities anticipate that these closures will remain in effect for days. To disseminate information to individuals working in the immediate vicinity, the police have established a hotline at (817)392-8866.
Atmos Energy, a utility company, promptly responded to the incident and issued a statement assuring their cooperation with the Fort Worth Fire and Police Departments in their investigation. They confirmed that the gas supply to the affected area has been isolated. Additionally, the Texas Railroad Commission, the regulatory body overseeing oil and gas activities in the state, stated that an inspector will be dispatched to the explosion site to conduct an investigation.
Mayor Mattie Parker expressed her condolences during a press conference on Monday, remarking that the recently renovated and reopened building was an integral part of downtown Fort Worth. “It’s heartbreaking for Downtown Fort Worth, of course,” said Mayor Parker. “Our hearts and prayers are with the victims at area hospitals.”
Eyewitness David Brymer, residing eight blocks away from the hotel, recounted the experience of being jolted awake by the explosion. “It shook my bed,” Brymer recalled. He ventured toward the scene and noted the incessant wailing sirens. “You could smell the gas in the air,” Brymer added. “I thought it was an earthquake.” Despite the absence of noise, the intense tremor left an indelible impression on Brymer. “I hope the building doesn’t fall and hope everyone’s OK,” he expressed with concern.
Josh Babb, the co-founder of Musume, expressed devastation over the explosion’s impact on their restaurant, which was housed within the hotel. “Luckily, Musume was closed during the time of the explosion, so we had no customers dining and limited employees working,” Babb stated in a released statement. He further revealed that three Musume employees sustained injuries but are in stable condition and receiving treatment at a hospital.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing, as authorities diligently strive to unravel the circumstances surrounding the explosion that has shaken the heart of Fort Worth.