Surveillance video captured four people dousing chairs and tables at a Houston bar with a flammable liquid, leading to an explosion that heavily damaged the business and surrounding homes but caused no serious injuries, investigators said Thursday.
Video released by Houston Fire Department arson investigators shows the unidentified males pouring the liquid from 5-gallon containers over furniture on the deck at Bar 5015 near the Houston Museum District at around 5 a.m. on June 12.
The liquid ran between the wooden slats on the deck and the fumes accumulated underneath. When the liquid was ignited, the accumulated fumes exploded, investigators said.
"The intent is obvious. I believe they were trying to burn the thing down and for whatever reason, it didn't happen, but it did cause an explosion," said Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena.
Officials believe that due to the proximity of the four individuals to the explosion, one or all of them probably suffered burns or blast injuries, said Houston Fire Department arson investigator George Smith.
Investigators have been checking area hospitals to determine if anyone sought treatment for injuries from an explosion or fire, Pena said. Investigators requested the public's help in identifying the suspects.
No one was inside the bar when the explosion happened, causing several small fires.
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The explosion sent debris, including pieces of the bar's wooden deck, onto the street. People who lived nearby said the force of the blast knocked them out of bed, broke windows and caused other damage to their homes. A business next to the bar suffered serious damage.
"The fact that it happened at five in the morning, when there's no population out there, no people out there, was a benefit to everybody because that could have killed somebody for sure," Pena said.
The explosion caused over $750,000 in damage to the bar, Pena said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for the bar, which had only recently reopened after a monthslong renovation.
Houston police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have assisted the Fire Department in the investigation.