Warehouse that exploded in Spring Branch 3 years ago unprepped employees for situation, report says

Chaz Miller Image
Friday, June 30, 2023
Lack of training played role in deadly warehouse blast, report says
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board revealed the explosion at Watson Grinding warehouse could have been stopped in a new report.

SPRING BRANCH, Texas (KTRK) -- It's been more than three years since a fatal explosion at the Watson Grinding in Spring Branch left three people dead.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has just released its final report on the explosion, which states the tragedy that took place around 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2020, could have been prevented.

ORIGINAL REPORT: This is the moment of the deadly explosion in northwest Houston

The report indicated Watson Grinding, which filed for bankruptcy and now no longer exists, did not have an effective way for employees to identify and control hazardous materials, nor did it properly train them.

It said employees sensed a propylene gas leak, which caused the blast, before the explosion, but didn't know how to respond appropriately.

As a result, nobody was evacuated, nor were emergency responders called to investigate the situation.

ABC13 spoke to business owners along Steffani Lane, behind where Watson Grinding once sat, to see how they felt about the conclusion reached in this report.

"Well, I know things can happen, and a lot of times, you do your best to keep things safe," John Doerfler said. "I know things can go wrong."

Gordon Andrus restores Corvettes at Houston Corvette Service, and his previous location up the street was destroyed in the explosion.

RELATED: Neighbors reflect on Spring Branch explosion nearly 2 years later

"Well, it destroyed my business for more than a year. I lost two buildings completely," Andrus said. "We've been struggling to get back on our feet, and we've done that."

Andrus and Doerfler agreed things would have been much worse had the explosion not happened before regular business hours.

"It was (expletive) fortunate that it happened at the hour that did," Andrus said. "It would have been hundreds (dead) if businesses had been open.

WATCH: Aftermath of deadly manufacturing explosion in a nearby neighborhood.

Radar picks up blast from deadly explosion in NW Houston

Part of the report from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board included recommendations to help prevent this something like this from happening again.

They primarily revolve around ensuring companies that handle hazardous materials are more proactive and effective when sharing safety information with customers.

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