A West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Has Exploded, Killing 5 to 15 (Video) [Updated]

Categories: News

Update, 10:24 a.m.: Scroll down for updates, including a statement from the President and information on shelter for the people displaced by the explosion. We'll be adding to this post throughout the day, as new information becomes available.

Original post, 11:20 p.m., Wednesday: News outlets across the country are reporting tonight on a massive explosion in West, Texas, that injured hundreds and reportedly killed dozens.

The above YouTube video claims to be of the explosion, and it's harrowing. The explosion occurs at about 30 seconds, as a father watches the plant burn with his child. No one gets hurt in the video, but still: Brace yourself.

The Morning News has reporters on the ground if you want to follow the story tonight. If you want to help, jump into the #West hashtag on Twitter and see what you can do.

Update, 6:10 a.m., Thursday: The official toll now stands at five to 15 people dead and more than 160 people injured, Waco police said this morning.

A nearby nursing home, which housed more than 130 residents, was badly damaged, as was West Middle School and 50 to 75 houses, according to the Morning News.

Most local news stations are offering live coverage of the aftermath online.

Update, 10:02 a.m.: President Obama has issued a statement on the West explosion. It reads, in full:

Today our prayers go out to the people of West, Texas in the aftermath of last night's deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant. A tight-knit community has been shaken, and good, hard-working people have lost their lives. I want to thank the first responders who worked tirelessly through the night to contain the situation and treat the wounded. My Administration, through FEMA and other agencies, is in close contact with our state and local partners on the ground to make sure there are no unmet needs as search and rescue and response operations continue. 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.

Update, 10:05 a.m.: There's housing available for those displaced by the explosion. Here's a Google doc currently being shared on Reddit, where people from across the region are offering room in their homes. The Waco Trib has a list of other available aid here.

Update, 10:15 a.m.: In a move that's both tasteless and deeply irresponsible, the New York Post is citing an unnamed "senior Obama administration official" to suggest that the explosion was "suspicious." Before the article was recently corrected, the Post repeatedly said the explosion had occurred in Waco, not West. At the very bottom, they manage to remember to mention that " there's been no suggestion of terrorism at this point," and quote an unnamed "senior Homeland Security official," who says, "There is always a possibility that it could be criminal or terrorist-related but that has not been suggested at this point."

Just as a reminder, this is the same paper that claimed that 12 people had died in the Boston bombings, and never actually made a correction.

Shut up, New York Post. Please, for once, just shut up.

Update, 12:17 p.m.: Carter BloodCare tweets: "The blood supply for area hospitals have been met." That doesn't mean you shouldn't check back in the coming days and weeks to make an appointment to give blood. If West doesn't need it, someone else does.

Update, 1:13 p.m.: A Facebook page has been set up in memory of the volunteer firefighters who died in the explosion. It's naming the victims as their identities are confirmed. So far, Buck Uptmor and Morris Bridges, both firefighters from West, have been named.

Update, 2:49 p.m.: Governor Rick Perry hasn't yet visited West, but he did hold a press conference this morning at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters in Austin.

"West is a really small community -- just a few thousand people," Perry said according to the Star-Telegram. "Anyone who grew up ... in a small town like West, they know this tragedy has most likely hit every family and touched practically every one in that town."

He also delivered rare words of praise for President Obama, who phoned him from Air Force One to offer the full support of the U.S. government.

"We greatly appreciate his call, and his gracious offer of support, of course, and the quick turnaround of the emergency declaration that will be forthcoming, and his offer of prayers," Perry said.

Of more immediate significance is the disaster declaration he signed, which will help free up resources to aid in the response.

Update, 4:45 p.m.: The City of Dallas sends word that Kenny Harris, a 51-year-old Dallas Fire-Rescue captain, was killed in the explosion. Harris, who had been with DRF since 1982, lived in West and was off-duty at the time. Although he wasn't fighting the fire at the time, the city says he was responding to the scene when he died.

Harris was married and has three adult sons; DFR Chief Louie Bright calls him " a great firefighter, great husband and great family man." Bright adds: "Dallas Fire-Rescue is wrapping its arms around the Harris family to provide comfort and support."

The full press release from the city is below.

Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR) Captain Kenny Harris was initially reported missing after yesterday's fire/explosion incident in West, Texas. Captain Harris lived in West, was off duty at the time of the incident and was not believed to be involved in any firefighting activity.

Although Captain Harris was not a volunteer firefighter in West, when he became aware of the fire incident, he responded as a helper.

"Captain Harris rushed to the scene compelled to provide assistance to his community during this crisis," said Mayor Mike Rawlings. "I want to express my deepest condolences to his family, friends and co-workers," he said.

"Captain Harris' response is typical of all our first responders; night and day, no matter where they are, no matter if they are on or off duty they respond with the greatest acts of bravery," said City Manager Mary K. Suhm. "The City of Dallas and the citizens of Dallas have lost a real role model."

Dallas Fire Chief Louie Bright III responded to the news by saying "Our hearts are heavy and hurting with the loss of such a great firefighter, great husband and great family man. Dallas Fire-Rescue is wrapping its arms around the Harris family to provide comfort and support," he said.

The DFR Chaplain and other DFR members are currently in West, supporting the Harris family at this time.

Name: Kenny Harris

Rank: Captain

Born: November 21, 1960

Hired: June 9, 1982

Married

Father of three grown sons


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
66 comments
Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen

Non-Union Right To Work States have "Double" the workplace accident rate because there is little concern for worker safety, benefits, or training. Corporations make more money of course and extract it out of the communities and states for some 1%'ers check by the pool. But blind-belief in "family values" is important.

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

Don't read some of the more popular national news blogs if you have a Texas style ego.   I was born and raised here and it seems pretty equal from the left and right find us a bunch of hypocrical hicks. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

The events of my beloved hometown of Boston, and now West, have left me speechless. Keep them in your thoughts. 

gopwankers
gopwankers

~Corp deregulations gets ya every time...Remember ENRON Scandal. It's a GOP Thang!!! I want to see, Dimwit Perry groveling like a stuck pig begging the Federal Gov't for aid...

gopwankers
gopwankers

Since the GOP in Texas limits the amount of liability a business has to payout, perhaps they'll throw in a voucher to Chick Fil A....

gopwankers
gopwankers

Pure profit driven, lack of safety regulation, machinery maintenance and turning nose up at EPA regulations....It's a GOP Thang!!! Let's not forget the GOP in Texas also limited the LIABILITY Payout...

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Lot of instant experts happily pointing a finger at their favorite whipping boy.  Disgusting

gopwankers
gopwankers

Reading some of the comments, looks like the dumbing down GOP nitwits got an answer for everything....Corp deregulations gets ya everytime......

gopwankers
gopwankers

And the dumbing down GOP nitwits keep pushing for LESS regulation for businesses? This is awful and most likely could have been avoided

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

This story doesn't seem to be getting the National coverage one might think it would receive.  And if you read that national blogs, there seems to be a real dislike of our State.   I wonder if it has to do with Rick "Duh" Perry? 

jcapezzuto
jcapezzuto

I hope someone starts asking why the area around the plant wasn't evacuated immediately after the fire broke out.  Isn't that usually standard procedure in a situation like this?

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I've stopped in West a hundred times at the Czech stop..the wifey and I have attended Westfest about ten times..never met anyone but friends there.  My heart and prayers go out to everone in West.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Looking at a Google map I see the plant located two blocks from a rest home and two blocks from a school, with homes across the street.  Thank God this didn't happen when school was open.  A lot of questions need to be answered as to how this situation could have been permitted to exist.

J_A_
J_A_

That poor kid. Brace yourself indeed.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

That is some scary shit.  And WFAA gets an A++++ for their coverage last night.  Having John McCaa on the air at 1 am was amazing, I couldnt turn the TV off

Dia Catalani
Dia Catalani

How in the hell can the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security permit that facility to store 25 tons of chemical so closely to residences? Why weren't emergency responders trained to know water would exacerbate the chemical causing the fire? What else is in our backyards?

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

"Jump into the hashtag on twitter if you want to help" is the best direction you can give here? 

I understand I'm an asshole. But seriously. It's a ton of CBS tweets. How is anyone supposed to find a way to help there?

Here's a starter.. and maybe you can actually use this blog for some good and provide some more.


http://www.carterbloodcare.org/Locations

Susan Mueller
Susan Mueller

Can you find out how the child and his dad are now? So scary for both of them- heartbreaking to listen to this.

Jonnee Evans
Jonnee Evans

I just wanna hug that little guy right now.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bvckvs so they should sue the republicans because they made a choice to live next to a fertilizer plant?  Yeah that makes a lot of sense

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@BrotherBrother 

Hmmmm.....

 I wonder what might be happening elsewhere that might be consuming the rest of the news bandwidth?

Hmmm.......

Tom434
Tom434

@BrotherBrother Just click on the home page of CNN, Fox or the BBC.  It's the lead story.  Texas also made the BBC over the Williams case

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

@jcapezzuto I read in some news article today that the West, TX Fire Dept is staffed with volunteer community firefighters.  It could be that even if the policy would be to immediately evacuate the area, that the volunteer firefighters simply didn't know or weren't trained on it.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jcapezzuto that is a legitimate question that Im sure will be debated and talked about once we get a few days farther down the road

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz its permitted to exist bc people work at the plant, they want to live close to the plant and so they build houses and schools and hospitals and old folks homes, you know, the things all cities need to survive.  Its a shame, we dont know how the event unfolded, but go read Zac Crains post on frontburner.  he grew up there, the plants been there forever.  It tears at your heart when you read his words.  Lets save the bleeding heart how can we let this happen for some other time

jcapezzuto
jcapezzuto

@ScottsMerkin A- in my book because they kept stating 60-70 dead.  I understand it was breaking news but they shouldn't put that out without confirmation.

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

@Dia Catalani The plant has been around for a long time.  Schools, assisted living centers, apartments and more popped up around it, not the other way around.  Should we expect plants to shut their doors and move because someone else wants to move into the area?

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

MMMMM....Russian Wrestler's seem to be trending big now.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

@KillYourself @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Hey, play nice.  If you disagree with a poster, say so. But please try to maintain some civility.  We do occasionally get worked up here at UP but there's no call for that particular post.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin The company's business listing reports 5 to 9 employees work at the plant.  If that's so, then it seems the plant has no reason to be so close to residences and schools.

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

@jcapezzuto @ScottsMerkin The local EMS chief/responder/whatever his title is was reporting 60-70 dead.  Reporting what he's shared is responsible reporting.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jcapezzuto All 4 locals were  reporting 60-70 so on that scale I leave it at A++++.  Its been a bad week for news sources.  CNN is the worst, Blitzer and his sources should be shit canned

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@NOWiGETit not that I disagree but frisco basically ran off Exide Battery, which existed for years before that town was even known

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

I have never heard that expression.  What does it mean?

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

I agree and sorry about the harsh retort you got below.  Texas is one of the hardest States to bring a lawsuit against a company even if, in this case, it turns out to be the fault of the business.  That is why Perry goes to other states waving the Pro-Biz flag.  There is a method.  Yet, I am not sure why or how it would push someone's button here and cause them to have a total brain spew.

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

How would discussing how or why this might have happened slow down the recovery in any way?  At the same time you are saying to discuss it later you seem certain it can't be blamed on the plant.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Did you read or listen.  The plant was there before homes.  It was stated that they got the property cheap bc it was right by the plant. The problem cant be blamed on the plant.  The real question is why wasnt everyone evacuated once there was a fire?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin  Scotty, questions have to absolutely be asked so that more precautions are in place and these tragedies don't happen again.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz listening to Zac on the radio now, even he says, it was just a plant, was kind of just there, no one ever thought twice about it

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Was she the one who kept prescribing prayers every 5 minutes. She drove me nuts.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@joe.tone @jcapezzuto @ScottsMerkin LOL, I caught the end of one of the tweet sessions, I mustve have been surfing to other stations when she was doing that.  Seemed like the last 3 tweets she read were the same tweet 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...