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Hotel Explosion Rocks Downtown Fort Worth

Authorities are investigating whether a gas leak caused an explosion at a hotel that rocked downtown Fort Worth, Texas, on 8 January. The blast did not cause any fatalities, though 21 people were injured.

The midafternoon explosion occurred at the Sandman Signature Hotel, which opened a year ago in a 20-story, 102-year-old historic building, approximately one block from the Fort Worth Convention Center. The hotel was lightly occupied, with more than two dozen of the facility’s 245 guest rooms booked at the time of the blast, the Associated Press reported.

The hotel was engaged in some construction work, though details have not been made public. Several of the people who were injured were employed by the hotel’s basement restaurant, Musume, which was set to open for dinner service approximately 90 minutes after the blast—though it is not known if the restaurant was the source of a gas leak.

Doors and parts of walls were blown out with the blast, littering the streets outside the Sandman. The explosion’s shock waves could be felt for several blocks. Emergency responders quickly extinguished minor fires and began sifting through the wreckage searching for people who may have been caught in the blast. Shortly after authorities arrived on the scene, they determined that no additional danger threatened the area, though county buildings and other buildings in the downtown area closed for the rest of the day as a precaution.

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“No one was killed in the explosion. As of about 9 p.m. Monday, authorities had accounted for 21 injured people, some of whom were trapped in the building and rescued by firefighters, including from the restaurant in the basement,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“All of us at Musume are devastated by the tragic explosion that took place this afternoon at the Sandman Signature Hotel, which is the home of our restaurant,” Musume co-founder Josh Babb wrote in a Facebook post. “Luckily, Musume was closed during the time of the explosion, so we had no customers dining and limited employees working. Three (3) Musume employees were injured, but are being treated in the hospital and in stable condition. We will be sure to send updates and be transparent as more information comes in.”