KEY POINTS

  • The explosion occurred at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing plant in northwestern Houston Friday morning
  • At least two people were killed and several surrounding homes were damaged 
  • Police have opened a criminal investigation into the explosion, which hazmat crews suspect was caused by a leaking gas tank

Two people were killed and Houston was shaken early Friday by an explosion at a metal manufacturing plant triggered by a suspected gas leak.

The blast occurred around 4:15 a.m.  at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing in the city's northwest area. It reportedly shook surrounding neighborhoods, damaging homes a half-mile away. Some residents managed to catch video of the explosion.

Two people were killed. Their identities were not immediately released.

“[The explosion] knocked us all out of our bed. Tt was so strong,” resident Mark Brady told reporters. “It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here … and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in, and we don’t know what it is. … It’s a warzone over here.”

Houston authorities locked down the area to contain the fire, which was largely contained by 9:30 a.m. though several small fires remained.

HazMat crews said a 2,000 gallon tank of propylene was leaking. It was suspected of playing a part in the explosion. Crews have been monitoring air quality and said the gas has been dissipating quickly.

The Houston Police Department confirmed it is following protocol and has opened a criminal investigation.

“We have no evidence at this point ... that an intentional act is involved,” Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters. “It's going to take days, if not weeks or months, to get a final determination of what's going on here.”

Acevedo has asked residents to report any debris found near their home.

“Please search your homes, and if you can, take a look at your roof,” Acevedo said.

Houston skyline The downtown skyline is pictured on Aug.t 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Loren Elliott/Getty Images