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Downtown Fort Worth explosion leaves at least 21 injured, likely caused by gas leak

 A Fort Worth firefighter stands on a pile of debris in front of the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, 810 Houston St. following reports of an explosion.
Glenn Ellman
Fort Worth Fire Department
A Fort Worth firefighter stands on a pile of debris in front of the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, 810 Houston St. following reports of an explosion.

At least 21 people were injured — 14 transported by MedStar to local hospitals — after an explosion at a downtown Fort Worth hotel Monday afternoon, according to first responders.

A MedStar spokesperson confirmed at least one person was in critical condition, four had serious injuries and the sixteen other had minor injuries. One person self transported to John Peter Smith Hospital with minor injuries.

The explosion occurred at the Sandman Signature Hotel, 810 Houston St. in downtown Fort Worth and caused a two-alarm fire.

The Fort Worth Fire Department and multiple other emergency responders, including Arlington Fire Department personnel, were on scene Monday afternoon.

A fire department spokesperson said they were working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has a Fort Worth field office.

"We have not made a 100% determination, but we want to make it clear that this was some type of gas explosion," the fire department spokesperson said. "We're still working on the details of that to figure out what all caused that at this point in time."

Fire officials said some people were trapped in the hotel's basement, but they were helped out.

The building was undergoing some construction at the time of the explosion, Fort Worth fire officials said.

The explosion scattered debris across the 800 block of Houston Street. Fire department photos showed widespread damage to windows in the building. Some photos show exterior walls on the first and second floor ripped off, exposing office desks and chairs.

A fire department spokesperson said the hotel was operational at the time of the explosion with 26 rooms out of about 245 rooms checked in.

Riley Stanford was staying at the Sinclair Hotel at 512 Main St., about three blocks away from the Sandman Signature, taking engagement photos in the bar area when she saw police cars outside the windows.

"It was nerve-racking," she said.

The Sandman Signature Hotel opened in spring last year and is in the Waggoner Building, which was completed in 1920. A restaurant on the bottom floor and was completed in May, according to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Jonas Amos, who works at the Fritz G Lanham Federal Building in front of the hotel, said he didn't feel the explosion but heard it.

"They made everybody evacuate, almost," he said.

As of Friday afternoon, he couldn't get to his car which was parked in a garage five blocks away and was blocked.

The fire department advised residents to avoid the area and follow #FWDowntownAlert for updated details.

In case cellphone connections were jammed, a reunification area was arranged in Sundance Square at 420 Main St. for family members looking for loved ones.

"My heart and prayers are with those who were injured as we continue managing response," Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said on X.

Tarrant County Judge Tim O'Hare said in a social media post that all downtown county buildings were closed for the day "in an abundance of caution." This excluded jails, law enforcement and other necessary public safety buildings.

State lawmakers took to social media as well, including Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.

"Horrible situation in Fort Worth," Phelan said in a post. "We are monitoring the situation closely. Heed the warnings of local officials and avoid the area."

Rep. Marc Veasey said his office was closely monitoring the situation and thanked first responders on scene.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

Kailey Broussard and the Fort Worth Report’s Matthew Sgroi contributed to this report.

Copyright 2024 KERA

Megan Cardona