Texas – Authorities have confirmed that a total of two people have perished in an explosion that rocked a manufacturing plant in downtown Houston.
According to a report from Fox News, the massive blast could be felt miles away, going so far as to shake the structures of homes in the area.
Firefighters responded to the scene of the explosion just before 4:30 a.m. Friday morning. Investigators say that the building that blew up housed Watson Grinding Manufacturing.
According to authorities, the blast was caused by a propylene gas tank, resulting in the deaths of two people.
The scene is currently being investigated.
“This is a disaster area right now,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo in a press briefing.
Acevedo made mention that anyone caught looting would be arrested and prosecuted.
One person managed to catch the explosion and posted it to Twitter.
— Joey Charpentier (@BattleNub19) January 24, 2020
Firefighter crews battled the flames for hours before managing to extinguish the fire. Schools in the area were shut down while the situation unfolded.
Breaking: Video just into our newsroom showing the aftermath of an explosion in Houston, TX.
Police say this is an industrial facility. Witnesses say the windows and walls of their homes rattled.
— Brandon Truitt (@BrandonTruittTV) January 24, 2020
Reports say that houses up to two miles away felt the shockwave and were shaken by the blast. A debris field spread over a half mile around the blast, said investigators.
Another hero has lost her life this week serving her community.
Officer Katherine Thyne was killed in the line of duty after being dragged by a car during a traffic stop. According to reports, the car “accelerated at some point during the encounter,” dragging Officer Thyne alone with it.
The officer originally responded to the area for reports of drug activity. She approached the vehicle on the driver’s side, another officer on the passenger side. The driver was asked to get out of the car, and he opened the door.
At some point after this, the driver accelerated and drug Officer Thyne with him for a block. The car crashed into a tree, pinning the officer between the vehicle and the tree.
The second officer was able to get out of the way and avoid injury.
Officer Thyne was taken to the hospital but unfortunately died later from her injuries.
Newport News Police Officer Katie Thyne was the young woman killed last night in the line of duty.
Thyne graduated from the police academy just this past summer.
She leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, her partner, mother and other family. pic.twitter.com/IZSdlYmyhL
— Dan Kennedy 13News Now (@13DanKennedy) January 24, 2020
The driver of the vehicle led police of a foot chase but was taken into custody shortly after.
The driver has not been identified but was a male. So far he has been charged with Felony Homicide, Evade and Elude, and narcotics charges.
There was a female passenger of the vehicle who was also taken into custody on drug charges.
Officer Thyne was 24 years old and had just graduated from the police academy last summer. She was the 12th officer, and the first female, to be killed in the line of duty in Newport News’ history, according to the department’s Fallen Officer page.
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Newport News Police Department Chief Steve Drew was emotional during a press conference Friday morning.
“This is what she wanted to do, law enforcement and to do it in this city,” he said. “We do not take this job to become rich, we take it because we care…we will get through this as a family.”
Chief Drew reiterated through teary eyes, “It’s ok to cry.”
Chief Drew is visibly emotional during today’s press conference, speaking with compassion and care. He’s stopped multiple times to gather his thoughts and continue talking about Officer Thyne, the reaction to last night, and how the department will move forward. #13NewsNow pic.twitter.com/G76Mx14sCR
— Evan Watson 13News Now (@13EvanWatson) January 24, 2020
The officer is originally from New Hampshire. Prior to becoming an officer, she served in the US Navy.
Chief Drew told reporters that Officer “Katie” Thyne leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, who, according to the Chief, “looks just like her,” a partner, a mother, brother, and stepfather.
Katie was an active member of the community. She coached a Boys and Girls Club basketball team, who said they’ll play tomorrow’s game in her memory.
Chief Drew added this about Katie, “I don’t know about what, but she was always smiling.”
He also said, “She is and will always be a valued member of this department and part of a tragic event that happened yesterday that will affect this department and community in the future of its existence.”
“She is a true hero,” the Chief said.
Rest in peace, Officer Thyne. Your life mattered, and you will not be forgotten.
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