West Texas Fertilizer Explosion: 60-70 Dead in Massive Fire Near Waco Say Reports.
By Chris Miles
In an unreal scene, a massive explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant Wednesday night in the community of West, Texas, just north of Waco, sending a massive fireball into the sky and setting parts of the town ablaze.
The scope of the destruction is at this point hard to determine, but could be significant.
According to some reports there are scores of deaths because of the explosion. West EMS Director Dr. George Smith told the local KWTX that as many as 60 or 70 people died and at least 100 were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West.
The number of dead and injured is staggering, but could not immediately be confirmed.
“We’ve heard that figure of 60 to 70 dead that’s coming from the county’s emergency management office down here,” said WFAA (Dallas) reporter Todd Unger a short distance from the blast epicenter. “I can tell you that a couple of law enforcement soucres expect that number to go up.”
A number of nearby residents were being evacuated because of the possibility of another explosion, officials said.
A hospital in nearby Waco, Texas, has been told to anticipate 100 injured people coming in from the fertilizer plant area, an official at the medical facility said.
“It was like a nuclear bomb went off,” said one man who was looking for a lost relative on Willie Nelson Road.
A large swath of the small town with a population of 2,800 was damaged, reports said.
Tommy Muska, West’s mayor, said at a news conference three hours after the explosion that he didn’t yet know how many people had been injured or killed. He said buildings in a five-block radius from the plant were severely damaged by the explosion.
According to the Dallas Morning News, a fire had broken out earlier at the fertilizer plant, and the explosion occurred while firefighters were trying to put it out.
“It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonia nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb,” said Jason Shelton to the Dallas Morning News. “I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows. There’s houses leveled that were right next to it. We’ve got people injured and possibly dead.”
Numerous buildings were reported to be on fire, including West Middle School and a nearby nursing home. A dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances said, “We do have a lot of injured here.”
West, Texas, is a community of about 2,800 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sitting about 75 miles south of Dallas and 120 miles north of Austin, West is one of 22 incorporated communities in McLennan County.
This is a developing story.
This story was originally published by Policy Mic and republished here with their permission.