Industrial explosion kills two, wrecks houses in Houston, Texas

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HOUSTON A large industrial explosion killed at least two people in the US city of Houston early Friday, shattering windows and damaging homes as shocked residents emerged to survey the destruction. Police chief Art Acevedo said two fatalities were confirmed after the predawn blast at a manufacturing firm scattered debris half a mile (800 meters) away. Firefighters, emergency services and police rushed to the scene when a loud blast was heard across much of the Texas city at about 4:15 am (1015 GMT). Officials said the explosion had ripped through a grinding and manufacturing business 18 miles (29 kilometers) northwest of downtown Houston. The property and surrounding premises were reduced to smoking, blackened wreckage, with rubble strewn about and many windows and doors blasted out. A security camera video appeared to show a huge fireball erupting at the moment of the explosion. “We do have confirmed fatalities in this case, at least two confirmed fatalities,” Acevedo told reporters. Both victims were male and likely employed at the firm, he said, adding that he did not expect the death toll to increase. The Houston police along with the federal government were investigating the blast, Acevedo said. ‘It’s a warzone’ – The owner of Watson Grinding, where the explosion occurred, told local TV channel KTRK it was sparked by propylene gas. Many houses in the area were damaged, including shattered windows, collapsed roofs and broken garage doors. The explosion “knocked us all out of our bed.—APP