Power plant explosion affects members of SJS community

Olivia Doan and Mia Baumann

Doors collapsed and glass shattered as a violent tremor tore through Northwest Houston, startling nearby residents as they awoke to find their houses devastated.

At 4:21 a.m. on Jan. 24, the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Power Plant exploded in Northwest Houston. Police reports stated that debris from the catastrophic explosion spanned about half a mile from the power plant. Two employees of the power plant were killed, and extensive damage plagued the surrounding neighborhoods.

French teacher Madame Hythecker was not awake during the explosion, but her alarm company attempted to call her at 5 a.m. after the impact triggered a series of alarms in the area, including her own.

“I didn’t hear the explosion because my primary residence is near campus,” Hythecker said. “I didn’t find out that anything had happened until I woke up at about 5:30.” 

Hythecker later discovered that the force from the explosion opened two doors in her house, which sounded the alarm. Aside from a slight tremor, none of the neighboring houses sustained considerable damage.

Sophomore Sophie Lesniak, who also lives near the site of the explosion, experienced similar conditions.

“I remember sitting up as soon as it happened, and I thought it was thunder,” Lesniak said. “The house was shaking a little bit.” 

When Lesniak woke up the next morning and talked to her mom, the two speculated that someone had crashed into a garage or a tree had fallen onto their house. Lesniak did not learn about the power plant explosion until later that morning.

Police chief Art Acevedo stated that the debris from the explosion created a cloud of pollution half a mile wide that dispersed through surrounding neighborhoods, jeopardizing the health of its residents.

The Watson Grinding and Manufacturing disaster is the second major explosion to occur in Houston in the past six months, raising suspicions of inadequate safety measures among power plants.

“Luckily no one was hurt,” Lesniak said, “but I hope that there are protocols followed to ensure the safety of the power plant workers and the residents around the plant.”