Breaking News: Explosion and Fire At Houston Vodka Distillery Injures Three

Thanks to a reader tip, we learned that Harris County Sheriff’s Department responded early this afternoon to a fire and explosion at BJ Hooker’s Vodka plant at 1300 East Richey. According to Harris County Fire Marshal Gene Hensley, three victims suffered burns. Two of those victims were taken by ambulance to area hospitals for treatment. Life Flight transported the third to a hospital in the Medical Center area. (An anonymous source says that the victim transported to the Medical Center was burned when a vat exploded.)

Hensley says that firefighters who first arrived on the scene reported heavy smoke coming from a warehouse building. Hensley also stated the distillery was doing “some type of a transfer or some type of a process that may have caused the explosion.”

Hensley’s full statement begins near the one-minute mark in the video below.

BJ Hooker’s markets its main product as a “handmade, premium vodka” that, according to its website, is sold at retail liquor stores in the Houston area, such as Spec’s and Richard’s Liquors. We’ve requested a statement from a company owner and will update this story if we get more details.

Comments (4)

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  • November 8, 2017 at 11:42 pmTracey

    Please take down this photo. The stills they have (had) are not similar to the ones in the picture. It’s an insult to the manufacturer of the ones pictured. Maybe use an actual photo of the equipment at the distillery where the explosion occurred.

    • November 13, 2017 at 8:24 amPhaedra Cook

      Tracey: we asked several sources to please provide a photo from BJ Hooker’s and sent a message to one of the owners. We would have even accepted a shot of their products. Unfortunately, no one came through and the owner never responded.

      When there’s a breaking news story, it’s common practice to use a photo in the public domain that’s similar. In this case, we thought it was best to show readers what distillery tanks look like. We agree it’s not ideal, but this story had to go up quickly.

      If you know of someone who can provide photos from the site, we’re happy to swap it out. They can email us at [email protected].

      • November 18, 2017 at 4:37 pmQuentin Dergan

        There are pictures of it on their website and their Facebook, I am sure no one even looked for a picture.

        This company had an incredible product for a very fair price and was very popular with the local spring area.

        We are trying to see if their cat needs to be adopted, I hope there is news of their recovery. I am so sad to hear they were hurt. My wife and I visited the distillery for a tour two days before the explosion.

        • November 20, 2017 at 10:11 amPhaedra Cook

          Quentin, in order for a publication to legitimately use a photo, we have to have permission from the license holder (which is usually either the photographer or, in the case of work-for-hire, the company that bought the photos). We don’t swipe photos from Facebook (or anywhere else) without permission. I realize other publications do it, but that’s really just asking for a cease and desist letter. We contacted one of the owners and received no response to our photo request. So, we used a photo that’s legitimately in the public domain. Sometimes when we’re on a breaking news deadline it’s the only quick answer.

          I hope the company is recovering, as well as the injured workers. We’d love to hear any updates and can be reached at [email protected].