Explosion Blazes Through West, Texas
Before April 17, 2013, few had ever heard of the small town of West, Texas - located about 20 miles north of Waco, Texas. However, that all changed when a fertilizer plant exploded. Firefighters initially responded to the accident scene for a fire. However, the explosion occurred around 8 p.m. and then subsequent explosions around 10 p.m.
This explosion brought chaos and destruction. The initial count of injuries was up to 200 and an unknown number of deaths. The fertilizer plant accident managed to destroy 75 to 100 homes and businesses - including a nursing home and local middle school.
West City Councilwoman, Cheryl Marak was reported stating, "It's total chaos. There's ambulances and fire trucks and police cars from everywhere. I was watching the flames and then it was just like a huge, huge explosion and two houses, I mean, it demolished both of those. I think everything around us is pretty much just gone." Marak also reported that the blast killed her pets.
According to a local resident, Keith Williams, his house was one that was completely destroyed. Williams stated "All the ceilings are out. The windows are out. The brick's knocked off the house. My big garage out back is half blowed in. People with all their houses tore up across the street from me, on each side of me."
Each report that came in about this terrible accident reported different numbers of injuries and deaths. Some reported the death toll to be as high as 60 to 70. Others reported the number to be at an unconfirmed death toll of 15.
At the time of the original explosion, Glenn A. Robinson, the chief executive of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, told CNN that his hospital had already received 66 injured people for treatment, including 38 who were seriously hurt. The injuries included blast injuries, orthopedic injuries, large wounds, and a lot of lacerations and cuts. To combat the rising number of incoming injuries, the hospital had set up a hotline for families of the victims to get information.
American Red Cross was brought in from across Texas. Teams from Austin, Dallas, and elsewhere were sent to North Waco to help with the accident. Red Cross spokeswoman, Anita Foster, said the group was working with emergency management officials in West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes.
Waco police Sgt., William Patrick Swanton, described the ongoing search-and-rescue efforts as "tedious and time-consuming." He noted that the crews had to shore up a lot of the wreckage before they could move on. The accident, which caused a mushroom-shaped plume of smoke and left behind a crater, has left a death toll of 15 and 200 injuries.