KWTX: Numerous Injuries Reported In West Fertilizer Plant Explosion

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Photo: Kasey Murphy

WACO (April 17, 2013)—Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded Wednesday night after a major explosion at a burning fertilizer plant in West north of Waco.

West firefighters were dispatched to the plant earlier in the evening after an earlier fire rekindled.

The explosion was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at West Fertilizer at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35.

Numerous injuries were reported and multiple ambulances were requested.

Several buildings were reported destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.

There were reports that people were trapped in the nursing home and in an apartment building.

Scanner traffic indicated that some residents of both the nursing home and apartment building were severely injured.

Children are among the victi8ms, according to reports from the scene.

Department of Public Safety troopers transported some victims to hospitals in patrol cars, said Gayle Scarbrough at the DPS Communications Center in Waco.

A triage area was established at the intersection of Haven and North Reagan Streets, but it was later moved to Marable Street and Meadow Drive because of the potentially toxic smoke from the fire.

Six helicopters were en route to West and were landing at the baseball field on Tokio Road, south of town, said Gayle Scarbrough, Department of Public Safety Communications in Waco.

Another report indicated as many as a dozen helicopters were responding.

A number of buildings were reported to be burning, some in residential areas and evacuations were underway.

West Middle School was one of the buildings reported to be on fire.

Injured victims were being taken to area hospitals.

An officer was dispatched to provide crowd control at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, which issued a call to all staffers to report.

The explosion knocked out power to a large area of the community.

Oncor’s online outage site showed more than a thousand customers without power.

 

Oncor Outage Website 

Interstate 35 remained open, but a number of emergency vehicles were on the highway headed to West and from West to hospitals.

Fire crews from virtually every community in the area headed to the scene.

Waco firefighters and the department’s hazmat team were among the first to respond.

The Killeen Fire Department was sending its hazmat team and 10 firefighters to assist.

A woman who was passing through West on Interstate 35 at the time of the explosion said she and her boyfriend saw a fireball 100-feet wide shoot into the air.

A man who lives 15 miles northwest of Hillsboro felt the concussion from the explosion.

Army Sgt. Rocky J. Havens said in an e-mail he felt the shock in Italy, north of Hillsboro.

Tonya Harris of Groesbeck said in an e-mail she heard the explosion.

“My husband and l were cleaning up the kitchen after supper, and heard what we thought was someone running into our house. It shook our windows and doors. We immediately ran outside looking for the worst,” she said.

Crystal Dahlman of Blum said in an e-mail, “the explosion shook and rumbled my house worse than thunder.”

Brad Smith of Waxahachie said he and his wife heard what sounded like a thunderclap.

Lydia Zimmerman of Bynum was working in the garden with her husband and daughter at the time of the explosion.

“It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us,” she said.