A massive explosion Monday afternoon blew out the ground floor of the 20-story Sandman Signature Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. Multiple people are injured, with 11 transported to hospitals or treated on scene and one person unaccounted for, according to the fire department.
The explosion at the historic Waggoner Building at 810 Houston St. rocked downtown shortly before 4 p.m. Debris was scattered hundreds of feet around the front of the building near Throckmorton Street. The hotel opened less than a year ago and included a basement level restaurant.
A Fort Worth Fire Department spokesperson said at news conference Monday afternoon that there was a gas leak and a strong smell of gas in the area, but it’s unknown whether the gas leak was the cause or happened as a result of the explosion. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. The gas company, Atmos, is on scene assisting.
The explosion appeared to be in the kitchen of Musume restaurant, according to Josè Mira, 49, of Dallas, who works there. Mira was covered in dust and had a cut on his arm. He said he had to climb out of the rubble.
“Everything fell, the walls, the floor, everything,” he said. “It’s a miracle I’m alive.”
Of the known injured, one person was in critical condition and two in serious condition, while the others had minor injuries, authorities said.
The fire department has shut down streets and buildings in a two-block radius as firefighters search for any more injured people in the “mass casualty incident.” The immediate concern is search and rescue efforts, after which authorities will evaluate the structural integrity of the building, authorities said.
“We need to be able to walk out of that building and know definitively that we’ve gotten everybody out,” fire department spokesman Craig Trojacek said.
Construction was ongoing at the restaurant but it’s not yet known whether that contributed to the explosion, according to the fire department. The Asian fusion restaurant opened last summer in the hotel’s basement level. The restaurant was closed at the time and normally opened at 5 p.m. for dinner.
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The city’s fire department said that people can reunite with their loved ones at the Sundance Square parking lot at 5th & Throckmorton St., 200 5th St. The area around the hotel has been closed off.
Witnesses described people coming out of the hotel with bloody faces and people on stretchers. People said they had family members in the hotel, and that they were injured.
Barbara Jacobs, 58, a resident of the Historic Electric Building Apartments at 410 W. Seventh St., said she normally walks by the building on her way home but “something told her not to.”
“When I heard the boom I was in the middle of the street,” she said. “To see it firsthand, oh my God it was scariest thing I ever seen.”
Numerous police officers and other first responders also were on scene.
“There has been an explosion incident in downtown Fort Worth this afternoon, and every Fort Worth emergency response agency is on hand responding,” Mayor Mattie Parker said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “We will provide more information as available. My heart and prayers are with those who were injured as we continue managing response.”
The Waggoner Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1920.
This is the second Sandman Signature Hotel in the United States; the first was built in 2018 in Plano. The brand is part of Vancouver-based Northland Properties, which is Canada’s largest privately owned hospitality company with hotels and resorts across Canada and, more recently, in the U.K.
The company’s president, Tom Gaglardi, has owned the NHL Dallas Stars hockey club since 2011. He also owns the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.
This is a developing story and will be updated.