HOUSTON - Monday marked two years since a deadly explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing in West Houston.
The explosion took place early in the morning on January 24th, 2020. According to investigators, the explosion was likely caused by a propylene leak.
The extreme force from the blast killed two workers at Watson Grinding, and a third person living in a nearby neighborhood.
"Today, marks two years [since] we lost the cornerstone of our family," said the daughter of Frank Flores, a worker killed by the explosion. "Our biggest guidance, the person that held us together the most. As we continue our days, we are still adjusting to life without him and we can only live in lesson of how short life is. Today, we honor his love and celebrate his life."
More than 450 structures were damaged or destroyed, dozens of people were injured from the explosion.
"This was estimated to be 8 to 10,000 pounds of TNT equivalency," said attorney Muhammad Aziz from Abraham Watkins Law Firm. "One of the most powerful bombs that can be dropped on combat is a JDAM. This [explosion was] equivalent to four or five JDAMs being dropped in the middle of a Houston neighborhood."
Aziz represents the Flores family in this case. According to Aziz, Flores wasn’t aware what he had been walking into the morning of the explosion.
"These workers had no idea the danger that awaited them that morning," said Aziz. "The neighborhood had no idea [either]."
Just a few hundred yards from Watson Grinding, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed from the blast.
Two years later, many homeowners have rebuilt. However, some houses still sit abandoned and destroyed.
"I spoke to one of my neighbors a month ago. He’s still out of his house," said Salvador Sanchez. "He didn’t have insurance."
Although some homeowners have rebuilt and returned, they say they’re still dealing with mental trauma from the blast.
"My wife has PTSD from it," said Travis McKelroy. "We were burning a fire place earlier this week, the crackling makes her sick, just from the sound. During thunderstorms, she can’t sleep."
The legal process involving this case and several lawsuits continues to slowly move forward. Although Watson Grinding no longer stands in the Spring Branch neighborhood, McKelroy says he still doesn’t feel safe.
"I don’t feel safe here," said McKelroy. "If I could afford to move, I would. You just don’t know what else is over there."