Fort Worth Hotel Explosion

City of Fort Worth relief fund looks to help businesses impacted by Sandman Hotel explosion

The $250,000 recovery fund will go to businesses in the West 8th Street area, which have had their street and sidewalk shut off in the wake of the blast

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Emergency officials in Fort Worth tell NBC 5 it could be months before we get a final answer about what caused the explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel. The downtown blast injured 21 people in January. Now the city is launching a $250,000 relief fund to help other businesses that have suffered.

Emergency officials in Fort Worth tell NBC 5 it could be months before a final determination is reached of what caused the explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel.

The blast at the downtown hotel injured 21 people back in January. The city is now launching a $250,000 relief fund for businesses that continue to be impacted by the explosion.   

On West 8th Street in downtown Fort Worth, barricades and chain link fences still block off the road.

They’re lingering scars from January 8, when disaster struck on the other side of the street.

“It’s been very stressful,” said Lisa Jackson, owner of La’Creamian. “It’s been hard to look outside and see, it’s a constant reminder of what everyone has gone through.”

That day an explosion at the Sandman Signature Hotel injured 21 people, leaving a scene of devastation in the heart of Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Fire Department investigators told NBC 5 the explosion was initially believed to be connected to natural gas, but an investigation was launched to determine the exact cause.

Eleven weeks later, West 8th Street has still been blocked off for that investigation, now being led by the hotel’s ownership company, Northland Properties.

“It’s been devastating for us,” said Donnie Vouklizas, owner of Cowtown Segway. “I’ve had to actually go out and look for a part-time job because without tours we make no money.

After months of seeing a fraction of their usual customers coming through the door, some West 8th businesses have faced the possibility of shutting their doors for good.

“We have all suffered in different ways,” Jackson said. “Lost revenue, the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to us was right there at the forefront.”

Business owners reached out to the city of Fort Worth for help, and this week they got a potential lifeline.

The city’s Local Development Corporation approved a $250,000 recovery fund for West 8th businesses.

“My heart smiled for the first time in a long time,” Jackson said. “I said there is hope for us.”

NBC 5 reached out to Sandman Hotel owners Northland Properties to ask if the company has found the cause of the blast and when its investigation will be finished.

“As we move forward with planning for the next stages, it has become clear that the process of rebuilding will take some time, meaning that it is unlikely the hotel will re-open in the coming months,” a spokesperson for Northland Properties said in a statement. “We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”

The businesses across the street from the hotel told NBC 5 they still needed to get more people through the door, but this relief fund has brought a light to the end of the tunnel for the first time since January 8.

“We’ve been crying tears,” Vouklizas said. “And last night was the first night that I actually had some tears of joy, thinking that there’s going to be some help for us.”

A spokesperson for the Fort Worth Fire Department told NBC 5 the department hoped a full report on the explosion would be ready by June.

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