Deadly Houston explosion: Avoid the area authorities are calling the 'hot zone'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- At least two people are dead after a massive explosion rocked a northwest Houston neighborhood Friday morning, breaking windows, collapsing ceilings and even knocking houses off their foundations up to two miles away.

The explosion happened around 4:25 a.m. in the 4500 block of Gessner Road. The origin of the explosion was at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, a machining and manufacturing company, according to its website.

The largest debris field and damage is in the area between Gessner and Steffani Lane in the Westbranch neighborhood. As of Friday afternoon, police closed off two nearby neighborhoods - Westbranch and Carverdale - that were impacted by the blast.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Click here for an interactive slider to compare the area before the blast and its aftermath

Chief Acevedo said residents would be the only people allowed to go back to those neighborhoods. Earlier, he said patrols will be watching the neighborhoods where people left their homes. He warned looters will be charged.

"You will not be given a slap on the wrist. I want you to think back to Hurricane Harvey when we caught someone looting and they were sentenced to 20 years in prison," Acevedo said.

WATCH: SkyEye footage shows just how bad explosion damage is
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SkyeEye mapping technology shows just how close some of the damaged homes were to the explosion, some being only 300 feet away.



WATCH: Moment of explosion caught on video at Watson Grinding in NW Houston
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