Huge Explosion in Central Texas; Multiple Injuries Reported (Updates: About 15 Reported Killed)
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: 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.