WEST, Texas (AP) — Rescue workers searched rubble that witnesses compared to a warzone early Thursday for survivors of a fertilizer plant explosion in a small Texas town that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others. The blast left the factory a smoldering ruin and leveled buildings for blocks in every direction.
The explosion in downtown West, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Dallas, shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and could be heard dozens of miles away. It sent flames shooting into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.
"They are still getting injured folks out and they are evacuating people from their homes," Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning. He added later, "At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue."
Swanton said authorities believe that between five and 15 people were killed in the blast, but stressed that is an early estimate as search and rescue operations remain under way. There is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident, he said.
Among those believe to be dead: A group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. about an hour before the blast. They remained unaccounted for early Thursday morning.
There are still unconfirmed reports that several West volunteers who were fighting this fire when the explosion occurred are missing. I certainly hope they will be found alive. One who was missing has been found and is seriously injured according to the news.
It's been a week of unspeakable sadness in Texas...
Here's a link to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story about the firefighters and EMT's who lost their lives in West, Texas.
Robert, did you get help?
Im a little confused though because your page mentions Florida and Phoenix Arizona...no mention of West, Texas...
My heart goes out to the families of the fallen, and to the West Vol. FD for their losses, may they rest in peace.
Its been a tough year so far, stay safe out there brothers...