The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Downtown Fort Worth explosion

21 Injured in Sandman Signature Hotel explosion

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8, an explosion at the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel rocked the City of  Fort Worth, blowing out windows and scattering debris across the street. Minutes after the initial shock, sirens lit the roads and emergency personnel arrived on scene. 

At the time of the explosion, nearly 30 of the hotel’s rooms were rented. No fatalities have been reported, but Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis, as stated by Fox 4 News, noted that,“There were injuries that occurred. There was approximately 21 people total that were treated. There were some that refused further assistance and left against medical advice. There were 15, I understand, that were transported; one is in critical condition.”

Three among the injured were employees of Musume, a restaurant located within the Sandman’s interior. The restaurant was undergoing construction at the time and a statement from Musume’s co-founder, Josh Babb, says “that the Musume was closed at the time of the explosion and that no customers were inside dining at the time of the explosion.”

Soon after the explosion, elected officials took to social media to express their concern for victims of the incident. Fort Worth Mayor, Mattie Parker, posted a statement on X, which reads, “There has been an explosion incident in downtown Fort Worth this afternoon, and every Fort Worth emergency response agency is on hand responding. We will provide more information as available. My heart and prayers are with those who were injured as we continue managing response.” 

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Governor Greg Abbott also issued a report on his Facebook page. “I have been in contact with Mayor Parker & Sheriff Waybourn to offer the state’s assistance in the response to the tragic explosion at the Sandman Hotel,” the statement read, “Cecilia & I pray for those injured & for first responders involved in this effort.” 

Emergency crews continued to search through the debris for any trapped victims into Monday night and finished their search the following afternoon. Guests staying at the Sandman were able to retrieve their cars, which according to Fox 4 News, “were parked in a lot next to the building. However, some of the cars had blown out windows or were damaged by falling debris.” 

Guests of the hotel had to vacate the building and wait to retrieve any of their belongings until further instruction. After firefighters retrieved personal items from the hotel rooms, Fox 4 News noted that those “who rushed to vacate the building after the blast will be allowed to reclaim their belongings on Wednesday. The Sandman Hotel will work to reunite guests with their property at the Zipper Building on 13th Street.” 

In regards to the aftermath, officials noted that the first floor “pancaked down” into the hotel’s basement. Fire Chief Davis, reported by Fox 4 News, said, “The main significant collapse damage is from the first floor into the basement and into the sub-basement.”

James Johnson, who witnessed the explosion, said to Fox 4 that, “It appeared to me that there was an explosion underground, like the cellar area. The sidewalk was blown out.” 

As of the weekend following the incident, investigations were still being led to determine the cause of the explosion. It is likely that a gas leak is to blame, but Fire Chief Davis claims to Fox 4 that he “was unaware of any calls to 911 about problems near the hotel before the explosion,” and said, “that despite some witness accounts, no one reported smelling gas before.”

In the effort to identify whether the explosion was caused by a gas leak or not, Atmos Energy, the natural gas supplier for the Sandman, began testing gas lines around the hotel, searching for any issues that may lead to a definite answer. The process is “being monitored on a federal level by the National Transportation Safety Board,” says Fox 4 News. 

Cleaning up the aftermath is also a work in process and due to the damages to the streets and road closures, both the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Parade and the Fort Worth MLK Day Parade routes were changed to avoid the investigation and the affected area. 

The first lawsuit regarding the explosion was filed just days after, on behalf of Christopher Medearis, who was among the 21 individuals injured. “The suit says Medearis was working in a building near the Sandman Hotel when he heard and felt the explosion,” Fox 4 reports, “While trying to run away from the blast he tripped, fell, and as a result suffered personal bodily injury.” 

The claim blames the Sandman for failing to provide safe conditions, as well as Atmos Energy for failing to detect natural gas leaks at the hotel. The lawsuit, Fox 4 News states, “is seeking monetary relief for mental anguish, pre and post-judgment interest and all other damages.” 

The Sandman Signature Hotel is located less than half a mile from Sundance Square and is just one block away from the Fort Worth Convention Center. The building was originally built for William Thomas Waggoner, owner of Texas’ famous Waggoner Ranch. It first opened, according to the hotel’s website, “on March 8, 1920, and was once one of the tallest in the State of Texas.” 

In 2019, Northland Properties became the owners of the building and “announced plans to open the 245-room Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel,” the Sandman website states. And though the hotel was newly renovated last year, due to the explosion, it may take some time before the Sandman Signature Hotel opens its doors to the public once more. 

For more information, go to www.sandmanhotels.com/signature-fort-worth-downtown/history or www.fox4news.com/news/fort-worth-police-responding-to-major-incident-ask-people-to-avoid-downtown

 

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Lainey Vollmer, Staff Writer

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