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Investigators find no evidence of criminal act in massive explosion at Watson Grinding

Dozens of specialists from the ATF National Response Team found no evidence that the deadly explosion was anything but an accident.

HOUSTON — The preliminary investigation into the deadly explosion at Watson Grinding points toward an accident.

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Fred Milanowski said the suspected cause is an electrical spark that ignited a leaking propylene tank.

Minlanowski said dozens of specialists from the ATF National Response Team worked over 1400 hours and found no evidence of a criminal act.

“No indication it was an arson, no indication it was sabotage, no indication it was vandalism,” Minlanowski said.

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The explosion in northwest Houston killed two Watson Grinding employees and damaged hundreds of homes, knocking some off their foundations.

Many of those homeowners have filed lawsuits against Watson Grinding.

A judge Friday granted a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the City of Houston, preventing them from cleaning up the area surrounding the Watson Grinding explosion.

The legal action was requested by attorneys for the homeowners affected by the Jan. 24 explosion to preserve possible evidence in the case.

The attorney for the Frank Flores, one of the workers killed in the explosion,  was also present for Friday morning’s hearing.

His family’s attorney says this is just the beginning of years long litigation stemming from the explosion.

Sean Rangel, who was badly injured in the explosion is also suing the company for gross negligence. He says Watson Grinding didn’t do enough to prevent the explosion from happening.

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Rangel is slowly recovering from the injuries he suffered on Jan. 24 when he was pulling up to work at the facility.

“As I was about 50 yards away I seen my friend, Franky, at the door,” Rangel said. “The door opened and I turned right to reverse into my spot and then I saw a flash of light in my truck.”

He immediately knew his friend Frank was gone.

Almost a week after the explosion, Rangel is dealing with cuts to his eye, glass embedded in his ears and can still hear ringing.

“My head is pounding,” Rangel said. “I can’t sleep. I see Franky every time I close my eyes and I think that could have been me with him.”

Gerardo Castorena was the other worker killed in the blast.

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