HOUSTON - Intense winds Tuesday night damaged a hangar at Hobby Airport, officials said.
Police were called to assist firefighters around midnight as storms and straight-line winds tore through the southeast Houston area, causing the hangar to blow onto three or four planes.
"Original reports were that there might have been someone stuck in the hangar. To our knowledge, no one was in the hangar during the failure of the structure,” said Houston Police Department Lt. Larry Crowson. “Right now, the fire department is on scene. We're waiting to see if we can get it cleaned up."
According to airport officials, Jet Aviation leased the hangar from Hobby. Jet Aviation then subleased it to Jet Linx. Potentially eight private aircraft were damaged, airport officials said.
"You have foreign aircraft here. You have a domestic flight, (and) French made. You're talking $15 (million) to $30 million for a lot of these aircrafts," said Brian Sheets, a Harris County Reserve pilot who has worked with the Houston Police Air Support pilot for 25 years.
"If you look at this [scene], it looks like something came down and smashed it from up above. These straight-line winds and microbursts, they can go between 70 and 100 mph, so it has to be strong enough. We have bolts just sheared off. I mean, these are parts you'd put on a helicopter," said Sheets.
The National Weather Service confirmed that it was a microburst that caused the hangar to collapse.
"Air that descends, hits the ground and spreads out. It's just as damaging as a tornado," NWS meteorologist Dan Reilly said.
He described it as a concentrated burst of air that happens during storms. In this case, Reilly said the air then had a linear path. They found debris 200 yards south-southeast of the hangar.
The storm affected one runway. No commercial operations were affected, airport officials said.
Firefighters and police worked through the morning to keep the area safe. Debris lifted by wind was a concern for airport officials Wednesday afternoon.
"It's a big concern. It's something that we are diligent in something we address," said Bill Begley, spokesman for Hobby Airport.
Crews worked to clean up the area.
Hobby officials said a fence would be installed to protect the runaway near the private hangar from debris, as wind continues to be a concern.
Airport officials are expected to work with the private entities, as well as inspect their other runways for debris.
"We'll probably work close with them to get that assessment done and to make sure we're addressing any possible debris and any possible impediments to any of the air operations here at the airport," Begley said.
Hobby Airport officials said it conducted its own inspections and maintenance.
Storms and high winds also damaged homes in the area and knocked down trees and telephone lines.
No injuries were reported.
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