Thursday, April 18, 2013
Mayor: 35 dead in Texas fertilizer blast
WEST, Texas — About 35 people, including 10 first responders, were killed in the Texas fertilizer company explosion Wednesday night, West Mayor Tommy Muska said in an interview with USA TODAY.
The dead include five members of the West Volunteer Fire Department who were trying to put out the initial blaze, four EMS workers and an off-duty Dallas firefighter who pitched in to help, Muska said. Not all the bodies have been recovered but all are assumed dead.
Two volunteers who showed up to help fight the blaze are also missing and presumed dead, he said.
The rest of the fatalities include residents from nearby homes in the devastated four-block area of this small north-central Texas town 20 miles north of Waco, the mayor added.
"It's just a tragic, tragic incident," Muska said.
More than 160 others were injured, and about 75 homes were destroyed.
Emergency teams went house to house through mounds of debris Thursday in hopes of finding survivors of the earthquake-like blast at the West Fertilizer Co. that sent a ball of fire and burning embers into nearby home about 8 p.m. CT.
The blast, which rocked the ground with the force of a magnitude-2.1 earthquake, happened about a half mile from I-35 and could be felt as far as 45 miles away.
Officials said there was no initial indication that the blast was anything but an industrial accident, although agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene investigating the explosion.
The facility, which receives fertilizer by rail and distributes it to local farmers, did not have sprinklers or fire safety barriers required by state law, an official said.
See full article here.