A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked the town of West, north of Waco, causing multiple injuries and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.
Firefighters were reported among those injured during the explosion, which occurred before 8 p.m. at West Fertilizer Inc., just off Interstate 35, about 80 miles south of Dallas.
Authorities were asking residents of the town to evacuate, and there were reports of dozens of people injured, including residents of a nearby nursing home. A fire had broken out earlier at the fertilizer plant, and the explosion occurred while firefighters were trying to put it out.
“It was a small fire and then water got sprayed the ammonia nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb,” said Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Czech Best Western Hotel in West. “I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows. There’s houses leveled that were right next to it. We’ve got people injured and possibly dead.”
Numerous buildings were reported to be on fire, including West Middle School and a nearby nursing home. A dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances said, “We do have a lot of injured here.”
Department of Public Safety troopers were taking some victims to hospitals in Waco, which is about 20 miles south of West. Bill Bohannan, who told the Waco Tribune-Herald he witnessed the devastating blast of the explsion while visiting his parents.“Every house within about four blocks is blown apart,” he said.