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A deadly explosion that left two people dead was felt by one of the victim’s friends, moments after they spoke on the phone.

Gerardo Castorena and Frank Flores, employees at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, were killed in Friday’s early-morning blast, officials said.

Company officials issued a statement expressing their condolences to the victims’ families but did not name the employees who were killed.

“Our hearts go out to the families and businesses impacted by this incident and to our community,” the statement read. “At this time, our immediate concern is the safety and well-being of everyone in the area and our employees.”

Houston plant explosion:
Friend recounts phone call

A friend of one of the victims, who would only give her first name of “Bobbie,” told a KTRK-TV reporter that she was on the phone with the victim when he arrived at the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing plant a little before 4:30 a.m., when the explosion occurred.

“He goes, ‘Hey, something is not right.’ I’m like why? And he’s like, ‘I’m here in the parking lot at my job and I just smell something really, really funny’. He goes, ‘It smells like gas,’ ” said Bobbie, who lives about 5 miles from the plant.

She said he told her he and a co-worker were going to check out the issue. “He said, ‘I can hear a very loud hissing sound,’ ” Bobbie said.

Not long after, she said she felt the explosion.

Bobbie said she hasn’t been able to reach her friend since the explosion.

Houston plant explosion kills two; friend recounts final moments

Friday’s Houston plant explosion, which killed two employees, was felt by one of the victim’s friends, moments after they spoke on the phone. Numerous lawsuits already have been filed against Watson Grinding and Manufacturing.

Houston plant explosion:
Propylene leak suspected

It was not known what caused the explosion, although Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said there was a leak coming from a 2,000-gallon tank of propylene. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said a multi-agency arson investigation has begun, and the Watson statement said the company was “working diligently” with federal, state and local authorities to aid the investigation.

One report said that nearly 200 homes and a nearby strip mall sustained “significant damage” in the explosion, and the KTRK report stated that almost 50 people are being temporarily sheltered at 4703 Shadowdale Drive.

Acevedo asked for the public to consider offering help and donating to the affected families. “This is an area where it isn’t the most affluent,” Acevedo said, “so my thoughts are with all the individuals, whether they rent or own, that will be potentially displaced.”

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