On April 17, a massive fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in the town of West, Texas, killed multiple workers, injured more than 160 people and destroyed nearby residences and businesses.
Preliminary reports indicate that as many as 15 people may have died in the blast. The New York Times reports that some firefighters who responded to the initial blaze are currently missing. The explosion also wreaked havoc on the local area, destroying or damaging nearby buildings.
The West Fertilizer Plant, located near Waco, Texas, experienced a fire earlier in the day that grew larger and culminated in a massive explosion just before 8 p.m. An amateur video taken by a man who watched the plant fire at a distance with his daughter displays the severity and impact of the explosion.
“We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said in an April 17 statement. “We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.”
President Barack Obama also issued a statement, in which he thanked the first responders for their efforts in responding to the disaster and pledged that his administration remained in close contact with state and local authorities.
“West is a town that many Texans hold near and dear to their hearts, and as residents continue to respond to this tragedy, they will have the support of the American people,” Obama said.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has deployed a large investigation team to the plant. The investigation will be led by CSB Western Regional Office Director Don Holmstrom and is scheduled to arrive in Texas the afternoon of April 18.
A list of emergency contacts and information for the city of West may be downloaded as a PDF.