FORT WORTH, Texas - Newly released 911 calls are shedding new light on the terror in the moments after an explosion at the Sandman Hotel in Fort Worth earlier this month.
Fire investigators say there is no sign it was intentional, but at this point, the cause remains unknown.
Source: Fort Worth Fire
It’s been more than week since the explosion. Fort Worth Fire says the investigation could take months. They still need to speak to everyone who witnessed the explosion.
Plus, the roads may look clear, but they still need to get to the bottom of the debris pile inside the building. Some of the victims are still recovering days later.
The calls started flooding in shortly before 3:30 on the afternoon of January 8.
"Yo, there's a big explosion here at the Sandman Hotel," said one caller. "Big, big loud bang."
Many callers did not know what exploded. Some could only see the smoke and debris.
"So it looks like the first floor, all of the windows are blown out," said another caller. "I see maybe one or two, maybe police cars. But I don't see any fire, but it was a flat-out explosion."
In nearby buildings, evacuation orders quickly changed to shelter in place.
"I wouldn't go outside. I would stay inside your building," the 911 dispatcher is heard saying.
Scot and Angela Cockroft knew right away it was bad.
"We were on the phone with 911. We were one of the first calls," Angela said.
The Cockrofts were in an elevator inside the hotel when the explosion happened.
"We're stuck in an elevator filled with smoke. It's on fire," Angela can be heard saying in one of the 911 calls.
Moments later, the doors opened, and it was time to escape.
"Let's go down the stairs! Get out of the elevator," Angela said in the call.
Eight days later, the damage is still evident along Houston Street, where gaping holes in the pavement and building are fenced off.
There is still not much clarity on the cause.
Fort Worth Sandman Signature Hotel explosion site on January 16, 2024
The focus is now on the interior of the 121-year-old building. The fire department is confident that whatever did this damage did not start outside the property.
"The debris is covering the street. I mean, this is a big explosion," one caller said.
The basement of the hotel is where the most seriously injured victims were and is the subject of the investigation.
21 people were injured in the explosion, including one woman critically.
Hotel employee 27-year-old Maite Lopez was among the injured. She is still at Parkland Hospital’s burn unit with more surgeries set for the future.
Carmen Hermosillo, a housekeeper at the hotel, has been in and out of the hospital with a broken leg and back injuries. She was trapped under the debris and rescued hours after the explosion.
As of Tuesday, two people have filed lawsuits against Atmos Energy, the Musume Restaurant and the owners of the Sandman Hotel.
That includes Jose Mira, a restaurant worker who suffered head injuries.
According to Mira's lawsuit, he reported to hotel management that he smelled natural gas 90 minutes before the explosion and claims nothing was done.
There's been nothing mentioned in any of the investigation updates about that claim.
More lawsuits are expected to be filed.
FOX 4 reached out to Atmos and the hotel for any comments on the lawsuits. They only are saying right now they are cooperating with the investigation and are waiting to learn the official cause.