Two people died after a massive explosion Friday leveled a Houston warehouse, damaging nearby buildings and homes and rousing people from their sleep miles away, authorities say. The explosion happened about 4:30am inside a building at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, which makes valves and provides thermal-spray coatings for equipment, authorities say. The building was reduced to burning rubble and debris, and some surrounding buildings suffered heavy damage to parts of their walls and roofs, per the AP. Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed the deaths Friday, noting authorities don't believe the explosion was intentional, though a criminal investigation is underway. Acevedo asked nearby residents to search their homes and neighborhoods for any debris—including body parts—and to contact police if they find anything.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said hazardous-materials crews have secured the valve on a 2,000-gallon tank of propylene that had been leaking. Propylene is a colorless gas that's highly flammable and can explode in a fire; people exposed to propylene can become dizzy and light-headed, and the gas can also cause liver damage. Nearby homes sustained significant damage. Some were knocked off their foundations. Mark Brady, who lives near the site, told TV station KPRC that the explosion "knocked us all out of bed" and "busted out every window in our house." This part of Texas is home to the highest concentration of oil refineries in the US and has experienced a series of recent explosions.
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