At least two people have been killed in a massive explosion at an industrial building in Houston, Texas, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo said during a press conference on Friday.
"We do have confirmed fatalities in this case, at least two confirmed fatalities," Acevedo told reporters.
Acevedo said the Houston Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation into the incident, but pointed out that there is no evidence at present the incident was an act of terrorism.
The blast that occurred at around 4:25 a.m. local time between Gessner and Steffani Lane in the Westbranch neighbourhood has left debris scattered around the area and windows in nearby houses broken, according to eyewitnesses.
Jose Ramos just gave me these photos from inside his daughter’s home. Ceiling cracked, sliding doors blown in. Everyone ok. Kids were terrified, he says. #abc13 #houstonexplosion pic.twitter.com/AzMUOmnK9U— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) January 24, 2020
A man told KTRK-TV that he saw a bloodied person walking around, while the Houston Fire Department reported that one person has been transported to the hospital.
HFD Hazmat responding to the area near 4500 block of Gessner. Firefighters responding to reports of an explosion. One person has been transported to the hospital from that area. @FireChiefofHFD— Houston Fire Dept (@HoustonFire) January 24, 2020
After the blast, the fire continued to burn and the firefighters have asked reporters to stay away from the scene.
Major explosion in Northwest Houston, neat Clay & Gessner. Did you hear it this morning? HPD blocking off the “hot zone” — Clay, Gessner, Steffani, and Genard @abc13houston #breaking #houston #traffic pic.twitter.com/JTddN7NFYl— Katherine Whaley (@KatherineABC13) January 24, 2020
The cause of the incident remains unknown so far. At the same time, the police have asked all traffic to avoid the area.