Fort Worth Hotel Explosion Injures 21January 9, 2024
Witnesses Reportedly Smelled Natural Gas Before Bomb-Like Blast at Fort Worth Highrise
A historic hotel in Downtown Fort Worth exploded into an apocalyptic scene of chaos and mass injuries on Monday, January 8th, at around 3:30 p.m.
Critically injuring one and seriously harming four others, the blast happened at the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Hotel, tearing off part of the building and ripping holes in the street below while trapping some underground as fires raged above.
Remarkably, first responders were able to locate and save everyone inside the hotel, and no fatal injuries have been reported to date.*
Video sourced from NBC DFW
As cleanup efforts continue, investigators are now focused on determining exactly what caused the Fort Worth hotel explosion, whether it could have been averted, and how similar blasts can be prevented in the future.
Here’s what we know so far, based on initial investigations, evolving news reports, and eyewitness accounts.
What Caused the Fort Worth Hotel Explosion?
Authorities looking to answer this question are focusing their investigations on a possible gas leak and construction activities reportedly happening in the hotel at the time of the explosion.
In particular, local and federal officials say a gas leak “likely” contributed to the Fort Worth hotel blast due to the strong stench of natural gas present at the scene. They have clarified, however, that they cannot yet confirm whether the gas odors pre-existed the blast — or if they only resulted from the explosion.
Nevertheless, some eyewitnesses reported smelling gas before the blast.
Authorities also noted that a construction project was underway in the hotel’s restaurant, Musume, when the blast occurred. Still, they have not yet identified the exact source or starting point of the explosion.
Dozens of Victims & Extensive Property Damage in Seconds
Musume was not open to the public on Monday afternoon, but three of the restaurant’s employees were on site. All were hurt in the explosion, seeking hospitalization soon after.
Unlike Musume, the hotel was open at the time of the explosion, with 26 rooms reportedly occupied by guests. Some of these guests say they thought they were hearing thunder or bombs exploding as the blast happened.
When it did, huge portions of the building’s façade were violently ripped off of the hotel, blasting debris and a lot of the first- and second-floor contents out onto the 800 block of Houston Street.
With that, walls collapsed, entrances were blocked, and fires erupted as the dust settled. There was also a lot of heavy debris hurled into the air, with some landing on nearby vehicles, including a UPS truck that was in motion at the time.
Video sourced from USA Today
All that sent many victims in and near the hotel running off in fear. Others remained trapped in the wreckage, as the stench of natural gas permeated the scene. Some witnesses described the gas odor as exceptionally strong.
Emergency Responders Rush to Help Fort Worth Explosion Victims
Arriving at the scene within minutes of the blast, the Fort Worth Fire Department (FWFD) instantly got to work locating and assisting the 21 victims.
As they carefully made their way into the wreckage, rescue teams uncovered many victims pinned down by debris, as well as a group trapped in the basement.
Of those hurt in the explosion, most sustained minor injuries, with 19 reportedly treated on-site.
Officials say 15 victims were eventually transported to nearby hospitals for more extensive treatment, with one critical injury, four serious injuries, and six semi-serious injuries.
First responders also tracked down two victims whom hotel officials could not locate, finishing the hotel evacuation at around 5:30 p.m., roughly two hours after the blast.
Simultaneously, rescue teams diligently put out fires at the explosion site while emptying the surrounding buildings.
Ultimately, first responders worked through the night to eliminate any public safety issues and ensure no additional victims remained ensnared in the wreckage.
Joining FWFD authorities at the scene, officials from the Railroad Commission of Texas, Atmos Energy, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also remain active in ongoing investigations.
Official Statements Highlight Commitment to Finding Answers, Keeping Texans Safe
Weighing in on this tragedy and trying to assuage public concerns, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued the following statement:
The State of Texas is in close contact with Mayor Parker, Sheriff Waybourn, and other local partners and first responders in Fort Worth to assist with emergency response efforts following the tragic explosion at the Sandman Hotel. We continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to immediately deploy any additional personnel and resources needed to keep Texans in the area safe and out of harm’s way.
Craig Trojacek, a spokesperson for the FWFD, elaborated on the investigation, stating:
This is still a very active scene … We have been working in collaboration with ATF, the FBI, with our Arson and Bomb Division as well. We have not made a 100% determination but wanted to make clear that this was some type of gas explosion, and we are still working on the details of that to figure out what all caused that at this point in time.
Finally, the owner of the Sandman Hotel, Northland Properties, also issued a statement, explaining:
We are working closely with the authorities to understand the origin of the event and the extent of the harm caused. The safety and well-being of our team members and guests is our priority. We are working with those who have been injured to fully support them at this time.
How You Can Help
If you are a victim or a witness with potential knowledge, even a seemingly minor detail, please contact us to share your information. We can make sure it gets to the right place.
Any pictures, videos, information, or evidence you may have could help. Please contact us 24/7. Your information or evidence could help investigators and the victims. You may email us here.
*As of the date on which this blog was published.