35 Killed, 100+ Injured In Large Explosion At Texas Fertilizer Plant

A large explosion at Texas fertilizer plant Wednesday evening in West, which has killed 35 people and injured more than 160, has rescuers going door to door in decimated communities – four blocks (approximately 75 buildings) – searching for survivors, looking under beds and in closets.

10 of those killed were the first responders – five West Volunteer Fire Department members, an off-duty Dallas firefighter and four EMS workers. According to West Mayor Tommy Muska, not all the bodies have been found but all are presumed dead.

Among those missing at the plant are firefighters who responded first to the scene. They were fighting the fire when the explosion took place. One volunteer firefighters who had been missing was located at a nearby hospital but it’s not known what is condition is.

The other deaths are residents of homes nearby the fertilizing plant.

Waco authorities are helping in the search and rescue operation. Several levels of government are looking into the cause of the explosion, which felt like a small 2.1-magnitude earthquake and was felt about 50 miles away. West is a small town of just 2,800 residents.

President Barack Obama said his administration is in constant contact with the local and state partners to ensure all needs are met.  He said many Texans know of West and, as its residents respond to the tragedy, they have the American people’s support.

Officials have preliminarily said that the blast is nothing more than just an industrial accident However, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the deadly explosions as well as the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

In 2011, the facility, which gets its fertilizer by rail and gives it to the local farmers, had a risk-management plan it filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it had no need for sprinklers or any other fire-safety measures because it did not handle flammable materials.

According to records, last summer, the company was fined $5,250 from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration because of safety violations – including transporting the flammable anhydrous ammonia and not tank labels – and made corrective actions. According to the state, any facility that handles the anhydrous ammonia must have sprinklers and numerous other safety procedures in place.

Officials have said the town is currently at no threat by the chemical fumes.

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Posted by on Apr 19 2013. Filed under New. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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