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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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April 17, 2013 - 7:08 pm

Awful. Pray for the people of West, Texas.

A large explosion rocked the town of West, Texas, 19 miles north of Waco, on Wednesday evening.

A source said that a large swatch of the small town has been leveled.

According to initial reports, the blast was at the West Fertilizer plant at 1471 Jerry Mashek Drive, about a half-mile east of Interstate 35.

The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed there were multiple injuries.

At least 10 structures are on fire in the town, including  including West Middle School, 406 W. Shook St., and a dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances said “we do have a lot of injured here.”

The blast was reportedly heard as far away as the Dallas area, more than 60 miles away.

Texans have shared images of the blast on social media. It looks massive. There are reports that the entire town, population 2800, is being evacuated.

Update: Fox is reporting on Facebook that some people are trapped in a nearby nursing home and apartment building.

Update: No, it was not a “bomb” and it took place 20 miles from Waco. So connecting this to Waco is irresponsible.

Update: More from Russia Today:

Police officers were witnessed transporting the injured in their squad cars.

At least 10 other buildings are on fire, including the town middle school, according to other media outlets. Every available ambulance had been dispatched while fire crews from neighboring areas have rushed to the scene.

An emergency responder requested help over local radio with a “major collapse” on a second floor where children were thought to be trapped.

Update: First responders have set up a triage at the local high school football stadium.

Update: Fox 4 in Dallas has a live video stream here.

Update: Reports from Waco say a second tank is on fire and may explode. The first explosion reportedly happened while firefighters were fighting a fire on a tank at the plant. So many of the injured may be firefighters. One witness said that every home within about four blocks of the plant was destroyed.

Update: EMS in West reports that from 60 to 70 have been killed, and hundreds injured.

Update: Video.

YouTube Preview Image

Update: From Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

11:12PM Update – Presser just finished – the mayor of West, Tommy Muska, says that a 5-6 block area very heavily damaged, that area has been evacuated – he asked for prayers for the community. Their #1 goal is going door to door looking for injured and survivors. He is a firefighter himself and was on his way to fight the fire when the explosion occurred. He issued somber words – “A lot of people will not be here tomorrow.”

Update: While all eyes have been on central Texas, Oklahoma City (!) was dealing with a fire ignited by a lightning strike. It threatened a propane tank battery. Thankfully, it has been put out.

Update: Another statement from Commissioner Patterson, following the midnight press conference by McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.

2:08AM Update from D.L. Wilson, DPS Trooper – The Mayor will speak again tomorrow morning (prob. 0600). There are a tremendous amount of injuries – over 100 injuries confirmed at this time. There are confirmed fatalities. It could go up by the minute. The scope of the explosion “is massive, just like Iraq, just like the Murrah Building in OKC.” At least 50-75 houses damaged, 50 units of an apartment complex that are just skeletons standing up. All injuries have been removed and most taken to Waco hospitals. House-by-house searches will be ongoing all night.

Update (Thursday morning): The death toll has been revised downward to around 15. Last night’s blustery winds have been replaced by rain, with strong storms now in the forecast. Among the dead are six firefighters and to paramedics. Several people remain missing, including one West city official.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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My thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, Texas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Senator Lautenberg's efforts to regulate 'explosive powders' seems misguided when directed an individual purchases. Perhaps the good senator's time wold be better spend investigating these industrial accidents involving explosive materials like fertilizer, paint, coal mines, and flour mills. Well, perhaps coal mines are a lost cause since we already have massive amounts of federal regulations as well as a president who wants to shut down coal mining.

At the very least, some congressional hearings into local zoning laws that permit these dangerous industrial processes to be built in residential neighborhoods, or permit the development of residential neighborhoods in the vicinity of one of these dangerous factories.

Perhaps there needs to be some congressional oversight into the hiring practices in these industries when a single careless or unhappy employee can so easily initiate a mass causality event, events that happen much more frequently than a shooting or bombing like the one in Boston. In just the last five years there have been more causalities from exploding paint factories and warehouse than all the shootings and bombings of the same time frame. Perhaps background checks for employees at these dangerous facilities should be required. After all, we wouldn't want a mentally disturbed individual working where a single turn of a valve would devastate an entire neighborhood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I understand the process correctly, the plant wasn't built in the residential neighborhood. Rather, the neighborhood grew up around the plant. Still a head-scratcher, when you take a step back and consider the consequences. But the town actually developed around the plant as a place for the workers to live and commerce.

I'm sure there will be second-thoughts about the placement of the schools, apartments, retirement facilities, etc., in such close proximity to this facility. I'm willing to bet that future organic growth around similar installations, whether in this town or elsewhere, will take that into consideration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First: Prayers that the casualties won't be as extensive as predicted.

Second: This factory was apparently cited by the EPA in '06.

Third: Haven't there been foiled Jihadist plots against other industrial targets? Is this possibly connected to Boston?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Doubtful it was anything but an accident. Ammonia nitrate can be very volatile and once its on fire your best bet is to evac.

Reminds me of an ammonia nitrate explosion on a train several years ago. They were switching cars in the railyard and one of the cars carrying bags of fertilizer collided with another car. Spilled a bunch of it on the ground and the ammonia nitrate started sweating. Then it started smoking. And then there was a fire followed very quickly by an explosion that leveled everything within a 1/4 mile.

Prayers for the injured and dead and their families.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm sure the police and fire marshals will be examining all possibilities.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe because of all the media hype these days, some disgruntled person decided that he could get some attention by igniting a fertilizer plant just to get his rocks off. I've heard fertilizer can make quite a bang. So let's get the local news time out here to create more drama, and then tomorrow we will bring the national news people here to create even more drama, and hopefully it is a right wing extremest that caused this to happen. I fear that this wasn't accidental.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Praying for those in West. We drove through there just a couple of weeks ago on business. We live on the NE side of the Dallas Metro just east of Plano, didn't hear anything. Then again, there is a storm brewing, the wind is kicking up, so I'm not all that surprised.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's the plant location on Google Maps...
http://goo.gl/maps/1Ja4P

Notice that the middle school, apartment building, and nursing home are just across the road from the factory...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
West EMS Director says he is estimated 60+ dead.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Revised estimates are 5 to 15 killed as of about 5:30 am. 160 injured.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yup, CBSDFW reports ammonia fumes are causing the town to be evacuated. West is halfway between Hillsboro and Waco along I-35. Many houses burning. Responders from the wider area are responding.

West is nice little town. Farming community settled by Czechs and Germans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was not a bomb, but the plant might have had...
how many tons of fertilizer in stock ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A very LARGE amount. Accidents do happen, unfortunately.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep. A large amount. It doesn't sound like it was as bad as the Great Texas City Disaster of '47, when a whole shipload of ammonium nitrate went off. But then again what is, short of a nuke?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep, we're talking about the same thing. The worst industrial accident in US history, total yield of the 2 ships and the adjoining industrial area supposedly was around 4kt. A small nuke, in other words.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At least 581 people were killed. All but 1 person of the Texas City fire department were killed in the blast. Photos of the aftermath of that disastrous explosion are unreal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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