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One-Year Anniversary of Devastating Houston Explosion Accident: Promises Unkept

January 24 marks the one-year anniversary of a deadly, devastating Houston explosion accident that forever altered the lives of workers at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing plant on Gessner Road as well as for those living around the machining company facility. A great many questions remain as to the underlying cause of the Watson explosion accident. What is clear is that 365 after the blast that caused a considerable degree of devastation in and around the machining and manufacturing plant is that promises made by Watson Grinding remain unfulfilled.

The massive Watson Grinding explosion occurred in the wee hours of the morning on January 24, 2020. People from as far as five or six miles from the plant were jarred away by the impact of the massive explosion. Families living closer to the facility fared even worse.

Two employees of Watson Grinding were thought to have been killed immediately at the time of the explosion. Frank Flores and Gerardo Castorena, Sr. were using the company’s gym before starting their workday when the deadline explosion occurred. One other fatality occurred involving a resident nearby the plant. Gilberto Mendoza Cruz died at the hospital a from injuries caused by the explosion a month later, after being evacuated from his heavily damaged residence.

A number of people suffered injuries as a result of the Watson Grinding Explosion a year ago. At least 20 people were treated at area hospitals.

These include Sean Rangel, who has just arrived at the Houston machining and manufacturing facility to begin his shift when the blast occurred. His injuries include serious damage to one of his eyes, requiring him to wear an eyepatch even to this day.

Numerous homes were completely destroyed or significantly damaged as a result of this Houston Explosion. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner ultimately reported that 214 homes were damaged as a result of the Watson explosion. Of this number, 50 residences experienced significant damage.

Many of these residences remain in disrepair as a result of the failure of Watson Grinding to keep a promise it made in the aftermath of the deadly blast. A couple of days after the horrific blast, Watson Grinding Chief Executive Officer John Watson announced that his company would repair all of the damaged homes.

Watson’s promise was short-lived. Within less than a couple of weeks from the date of the fatal explosion, Watson filed for bankruptcy. The company terminated its entire workforce of 80 employees. As of the beginning of 2021, there are no plans for Watson Grinding and Manufacturing to resume operations at its Houston facility.

Other failures on the part of Watson Grinding have occurred since the 2021 Houston explosion. These include a failure to report emissions from the explosion and subsequent fire that may present a long-term health risk to former workers as well as residents impacted from the smoke cloud emitted by the blast.

Investigators ultimately concluded that a spark ignited a leaking propylene tank at the site. They have yet to be able to ascertain why the propylene tank was leaking in the first instance. Moreover, the investigation into the explosion and fire revealed that Watson Grinding had a variety of hazardous materials stored inside and outside of the plant facility. The Houston explosion resulted in a tightening of regulations pertaining to the storage of hazardous materials. These include a requirement that hazardous materials must be at least 1,000 feet away from a specified list of structures, including private residences, community centers, churches, public parks, and certain types of businesses.

If you’ve been injured in a Houston explosion accident, or if you’ve lost a family member in an incident like the Watson Grinding explosion, The Doan Law Firm is here for you. A nationwide law firm with offices located from coast to coast, Houston is our headquarters and our hometown. Our offices are located conveniently at:

The Doan Law Firm

1 Riverway

Suite 2500

Houston, Texas 77056


You can schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation with a Houston explosion accident lawyer any time by calling us at (832)-835-0000 [or nationwide at (800) 349-0000]. Our telephone is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including major holidays. There is no charge for an initial consultation.

The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee guarantee to you. We never charge an attorney fee unless we win for you.

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