A devastating explosion rocked a historic hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, shattering windows, scattering debris across the streets, and leaving 21 people injured, including one in critical condition, according to authorities.
The blast, which occurred at the 20-story Sandman Signature Hotel, sent doors and entire sections of walls onto the road, leading to a chaotic scene. Rescue crews, responding swiftly to the emergency, discovered several individuals trapped in the hotel’s basement. Fifteen people were rushed to hospitals, with six of them in “semi-critical” condition, as reported by MedStar, the emergency medical services provider in Fort Worth.
While there were no indications of missing persons, late Monday, fire officials announced their commitment to continue searching the building for any potential victims.
The explosion, believed to have been caused by a gas leak, unfolded during the afternoon on a workweek day, catching many occupants off guard. The hotel, which had more than two dozen occupied rooms at the time, was undergoing construction.
“There was debris. There was insulation. There was office furniture,” described Charlie Collier, an eyewitness who was working nearby when the explosion occurred. He recounted witnessing a large flash and hearing a sound resembling thunder. “Everything that was in the first couple floors of the building was blown out all over the street,” he added.
The Sandman Signature Hotel, situated one block from the Fort Worth Convention Center, is located in a bustling area of downtown. News helicopters captured footage of firefighters navigating through piles of debris, including drywall, shattered glass, and twisted metal, strewn across the street. Authorities urged the public to avoid the affected area.
Craig Trojacek, a spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department, stated that the restaurant within the building was under construction, though it remained uncertain if this was the specific location of the explosion.
Eyewitness accounts described a loud crack, a wall of dust and debris sweeping through the city streets, and the intense smell of natural gas following the blast. Rescue teams evacuated nearby buildings, ensuring the safety of residents.
As the investigation unfolds, federal investigators are collaborating with local authorities to determine the cause of the explosion. Technicians from Atmos Energy, a Dallas-based natural gas distributor, and a representative from the Railroad Commission of Texas are actively involved in examining the site.
The Canadian company Northland Properties Co., owner of the hotel, expressed cooperation with officials to ascertain the cause and assess the extent of the damage. In a statement, the company emphasized its commitment to supporting the injured individuals during this challenging time.
Constructed in 1920 as the “Waggoner Building,” the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel has 245 rooms and has held a place on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. As investigators delve into the incident, the historic hotel and its occupants grapple with the aftermath of a tragic explosion.