A million dollars worth of Corvettes were among the victims of a deadly warehouse explosion in Houston early Friday morning.
The Corvettes were inside Houston Corvette Service, described on its website as “a premier service and restoration facility for Corvettes, in particular, and General Motors cars and trucks, generally.”
The explosion happened across the street from the Corvette restoration shop at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, a plastics manufacturing warehouse where two employees lost their lives.
The owner of Houston Corvette Service, Gordon Andrus, described on the business website as “a confirmed Corvette nut,” told UPI two of his four buildings were flattened by the blast.
“It’s sitting there with about $1 million in cars right now,” Andrus said. “We restore old Corvettes, and it’s full of what used to be really nice cars.”
Fortunately, because the blast happened at 4:24 a.m., no one was working inside the Corvette facility, Andrus said.
While John Watson, owner of Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, blamed the blast on a propylene tank, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said it may take investigators up to two months to determine the official cause. The family-owned company makes and services parts for everything from the oil and gas to aerospace industries.
Andrus is having to wait to get inside his buildings to see what condition the cars are in, but he told CNN that about 15 cars worth a total of about $1 million were inside.
“The charge blasted across the street, right over our buildings and then on into the neighborhoods where you’ve heard about all the houses that have been damaged,” he said. “The rest of the street had very minor damage, but my two buildings are flattened.”
Andrus holds out hope that the cars won’t be total losses. “I don’t think they’re [the cars] destroyed, but the buildings will have to be torn down,” he said. “So the question is, what do I have to do to shore the building up enough to get them cars out of there, and what’s it going to take to repair the cars?”
His business, which opened in 1994, was housed in four buildings, with two further down the street, used for paint and bodywork, escaping damage.
He told CNN he hopes to recover his computer, account records, and payroll information but hasn’t been able to access the office while investigators are busy in the area.
“Then I can pay my guys, start getting things organized,” he said. “As soon as I get in there, we’re gonna move the operations to my paint shop.”
Andrus, who owned some of the affected cars himself, has been in touch with all the other owners and says every vehicle “is insured and we’re in the business of repairing and restoring cars.”
“We will make it right one way or another,” he said.
Andrus says the business will be “up and running” Monday.
On Saturday, volunteers targeted the area within the boundaries of Gessner Road, Clay Road, Shadowdale Drive, and Bridgeland Lane, where 200 structures suffered moderate to significant damage, with about 25 homes determined to be uninhabitable. The blast knocked houses off foundations, blew doors off frames, shattered windows, cracked sheetrock, and woke up residents as far away as 14 miles.