An explosion at a downtown Fort Worth, Texas, hotel possibly caused by a gas leak injured at least 21 people, sent heavy debris across a block and forced nearby employees to evacuate Monday afternoon.
Fort Worth Fire Department officials said one person is in critical condition following the explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel, which occurred around 3:30 p.m. local time.
Aerial footage in Fort Worth, Texas, showed debris from the hotel scattered across downtown streets as authorities said they were responding to a “major incident” and urged people to avoid the area. The Sandman Signature hotel is in a busy area of downtown about one block from the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Fort Worth City Councilman Carlos Flores posted on Facebook that there had been a gas leak and an explosion.
The city’s emergency medical service has sent nine ambulances to the scene. A Fort Worth Fire spokesperson said they treated a total of 20 patients, 14 of them have been transported for medical assistance. One patient is in critical condition, four others are being treated for serious injuries.
A 21st person with injuries drove themself to the hospital.
One person is unaccounted for. It’s unclear if the person is a guest or an employee of the hotel.
Desiree Partain of MedStar said there are not any fatalities reported so far but stressed that they were still assessing the situation.
Partain said she could not characterize the types of injuries that medical staff were finding and said she did not know their cause.
Firefighters were seen going through debris from the incident spread throughout the street, including window pieces and parts of the exterior.
Fire department officials said a gas leak was part of the incident, but they couldn’t immediately determine if it caused the explosion.
“We do know that there was some construction that was being done down at the restaurant. We’re not 100% sure that that’s where it actually started at this point in time,” Forth Worth Fire Department spokesman Craig Trojacek told reporters at a news conference.
The investigation is ongoing and first responders are continuing to search throughout the building.
“We’ll talk about the structural integrity … after that, and we’re just trying to make sure that when we walk out of that building, we can definitively say that we’ve got everybody removed from that structure,” Trojacek said.
According to the hotel website, the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel has 245 rooms and was built in 1920 as the “Waggoner Building,” named after cattle rancher and oilman William Thomas Waggoner. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
The hotel, located near the Fort Worth Convention Center, opened last May following an extensive reconversion of the Waggoner Building, a Fort Worth historical building.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that he was monitoring the situation and ready to deploy additional resources if needed.