Live video: West, Texas explosion coverage

posted at 7:41 am on April 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The nightmare continues for the town of West as morning dawns and the extent of the devastation becomes clear. Governor Rick Perry will have a press conference later this morning to discuss the state’s response to the disaster. The death toll is estimated at the moment to be between five and 15 people, but Dallas Morning News reports that authorities fear that number will climb sharply, including some of the first responders who have gone missing:

Emergency personnel were bracing for the possibility of dozens of dead in the blast, which was reported at 7:53 p.m. and could be heard 45 miles away in Waxahachie.

Although authorities confirmed that at least five to 15 people had died, shortly before 5 a.m. they were still saying they did not have an official total. They have said they expect to find more bodies as they continue to search the area.

West’s EMS director, Dr. George Smith, confirmed after 4 a.m. that two emergency personnel had been killed in the explosion, which occurred at West Fertilizer Co., just off Interstate 35, about 80 miles south of Dallas.

Smith said he could not yet confirm whether three to five firefighters and one police officer who have been reported as missing had died.

The devastation has been massive:

City Council member Al Vanek said a four-block area around the explosion’s epicenter was “totally decimated.”

Other witnesses compared the scene to that of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and authorities said the plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city’s Murrah Federal Building.

Numerous buildings were on fire, including the nursing home and West Middle School. An emergency dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances said, “We do have a lot of injured here.”

Everything around the plant had been blown apart or collapsed, including a nearby apartment complex with about 50 units that had been destroyed.

Among the damaged buildings were 50 to 75 houses.

“That whole side of town looks like a disaster,” Bill Manolakis said. “Who in their right mind sticks a damn plant next to houses?”

Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with rescuers and evacuees scrambling as traffic backed up for miles on I-35 and livestock ran loose.

Response and investigatory teams are on their way:

Information was hard to come by in the hours after the blast, and entry into the town was slow-going as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help. A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the state sent personnel from several agencies to help, including the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, the state’s emergency management department and an incident management team. Also responding is the state’s top urban search and rescue team, the state health department and mobile medical units.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it was deploying a large investigation team to West. American Red Crosscrews from across Texas also headed to the scene. Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster said the group was working with emergency management officials in West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes.

CNN updates its story this morning as well, with a clip of the explosion that has gone viral overnight and a fresh look at efforts to contain the disaster. Another tank is still at risk of explosion, and that is hampering rescue and other response efforts:

CBS’ affiliate in Dallas is live-streaming their morning broadcast, which is mostly dedicated to updates on this story:

The explosion was heard, at least in a virtual sense, all the way to Vatican City:

Indeed — and pray for the brave responders who are still running toward the danger to help others get away from it.

Update: From commenter WorkingClass Artist, here is some key information for those in the area.  It’s posted in the comments section, too.

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prayers coming…

cmsinaz on April 18, 2013 at 7:45 AM

I’ve not seen it mentioned in any of the reporting. Were those houses, apartments, and nursing home evacuated ahead of the explosion because of the fire?

I couldn’t have said it better than Pope Francis- Please pray for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families. Too bad our own rat-eared coward is still in a snit over his failed attempt at gun grabbing to even acknowledge this tragedy. It makes me hate the worthless bastard even more than ever.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 7:54 AM

“That whole side of town looks like a disaster,” Bill Manolakis said. “Who in their right mind sticks a damn plant next to houses?”

Pretty much everyone, as things grow. I understand the sentiment, but maybe focus on the ground before recriminations.

Axe on April 18, 2013 at 7:54 AM

. . . he waits for an email from someone he’s almost sure is safe . . .

Hate this.

Axe on April 18, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Thanks for posting this Ed….especially the Prayers from Pope Francis.

West, Texas is part of The Little Czech region in Texas…lots of Catholics and Baptists in a small town of 2800.

Posted this on the other thread…but it’s good info/links for anyone in the area who wants info or to help. Blood and Plasma is crucial for burn victims…so donate if you can.

Local news outlet for Waco,Kileen,Temple area.

“Central Texas facilities open doors for West survivors…

This is a list of facilities and locations that survivors of the West explosion can go for help.

* Heart of Texas Red Cross has a shelter at Latham Springs Camp in Aquilla.
* Blair’s Cove Apartments are offering housing to those who need it. 25+ units are available. Their number is 254-447-0810.
* Aquilla ISD is opening its facilities. Please report to the gym entrance.
* All the schools at Gholson ISD have been opened to be used as shelters
* First Baptist Church of Gholson is open for survivors.
* Turner’s in downtown Waco is taking survivors with pets. They are located at 721 Austin Ave. Contact Shane Turner at 254-644-7904.
* Sykora Family Ford in West opening their doors for families affected. Their number is 254-826-5314. They are located at 519 S. George Kacir Dr.
* Church of the Open Door will be opened for survivors. They are located off of exit 339 in Bellmead.
* Penelope High School has been opened for survivors.
* Ben’s Boat Repair in Elm Mott has space available for pets and a few people, 435 S. McLennan Loop, 254-716-9593
* Central United Methodist Church has opened a shelter at 5740 Bagby Ave in Waco.
* Antioch church in Waco has opened their facility for those who are displaced.
* The Best Western Czech Inn is open for those who need shelter.

For those who want to donate or give blood, these facilities will also be available.

* Carter Bloodcenter in Waco will be taking blood donations at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
* ESPN 1660 AM is taking donations at their Bagby Ave. location
* The Temple Dynaclean on 2102 West Avenue D will accepting donations starting at 8 a.m.
* Berthas Bakery & Restaurant will be accepting donations at 7 a.m. They are located at 2418 Grim Ave in Waco. You can contact them at 254-755-7123
* Lil Monkey Boutique will be accepting donations. They are located at 2052 Valley Mills Dr. You can contact them at 254-717-7717.
* Lone Star Tavern and Steakhouse at 4713 Bellmead Dr. in Waco will be accepting gift card donations and bottle water donations starting at 8 a.m.
* Carter Bloodcare in Dallas will be taking blood donations for those in the DFW area. They are located at 4849 West Illinois Ave.
* T & M Contracting in Woodway is taking donations at 123 Topeka Dr. You can contact them at 254-224-6161.
* Smarty Pants in Waco will be accepting clothing donations at 8 a.m. They are located at 5301 Bosque Blvd. You can contact them at 254-751-0211.
* VFW in Hewitt is accepting donations. They are located at 725 Sun Valley Blvd.
* Connor Health Foods will be accepting donations. They are located on Waco Dr. and 27th Street.
* Canyon Springs is accepting all donations. They are located at 2301 Woodgate in Waco. You can contact them at 254-235-0602.

Link:
http://www.kxxv.com/story/22009727/central-texas-facilties-open-doors-for-west-survivors

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 7:58 AM

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Yes, they were attempting to evacuate, shortly after the fire started … blast was about 20-30 mins later.

pambi on April 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM

It makes me hate the worthless bastard even more than ever.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 7:54 AM

+100

As has been shown this week…
It ain’t about him..
And his is pissed about that.

Electrongod on April 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM

I’ve not seen it mentioned in any of the reporting. Were those houses, apartments, and nursing home evacuated ahead of the explosion because of the fire?

I couldn’t have said it better than Pope Francis- Please pray for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families. Too bad our own rat-eared coward is still in a snit over his failed attempt at gun grabbing to even acknowledge this tragedy. It makes me hate the worthless bastard even more than ever.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 7:54 AM

A local doctor called into WBAP last night.

He was at the nursing home moving patients when the explosion occurred. Most had been moved to another part of the bldg. when the fire started and they were making evacuation plans.

Folks were loading patients in their pickup trucks to evacuate.

Most went to Waco Hospital (20 min. away)….Serious/Critical were flown to FT. Worth,Dallas (Parkland Hosp. Burn Unit) and Temple.

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Unprecedented Code Green (Calling additional medical personell from surrounding areas) sounded at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Cntr.

http://www.wbap.com/

Firefighters and Police first responders still unaccounted for at scene.

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Yes, they were attempting to evacuate, shortly after the fire started … blast was about 20-30 mins later.

pambi on April 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Folks were loading patients in their pickup trucks to evacuate.

Most went to Waco Hospital (20 min. away)….Serious/Critical were flown to FT. Worth,Dallas (Parkland Hosp. Burn Unit) and Temple.

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Thanks for the information guys. At least there is hope in that.

Between the Boston Marathon bombing, the details out of the Gosnell trial, and this I am in a very dark mood this week. :(

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

BLAMEOPOLY!!!!……let the game begin.

Media villain #1……..RICK PERRY

Media villain #2………the sequester.

PappyD61 on April 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

BLAMEOPOLY!!!!……let the game begin.

Media villain #1……..RICK PERRY

Media villain #2………the sequester.

PappyD61 on April 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Neither. Evil corporation that cares more about profits than the well-being of people.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Hopefully this front will move through quickly…dissipate the fumes & lingering fires but not hamper search and rescue too much.

“A line of storms are working through Central Texas this morning. Gusty straight-line winds from 50-60mph, hail, and frequent lightning is possible as the storms move through.”

radar link:
http://www.kwtx.com/weather

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:13 AM

I may be time for another concert at the WH.

Electrongod on April 18, 2013 at 8:16 AM

A doctor in West saw the flames and rushed to the local nursing home next to the plant. He and staff moved all 133 patients to the opposite side of the facility just before the explosion shattered the fire facing side. God bless you doc!

Limerick on April 18, 2013 at 8:24 AM

Between the Boston Marathon bombing, the details out of the Gosnell trial, and this I am in a very dark mood this week. :(

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Yeah…

I try and focus on the incredible charity and bravery of the folks who respond to the crisis…In Boston…Here in Texas…

I think it helps…

Facebook link for the Firefighters
http://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Memory-of-West-TX-Firefighters-Last-Alarm-4172013/163556353806671

Social media/facebook link for info and charitable coordination:
https://www.facebook.com/PrayersforWest

Leaving soon to give blood/plasma at one of the local places in the DFW area….That helps too I guess.

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:27 AM

EG

For sure another party

cmsinaz on April 18, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Sad morning in the Lone Star state….prayers ascending…

hillsoftx on April 18, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Dang, been there many times. The picture on drudge was taken from in front of the “Czech Stop”. A must stop when traveling through the area. Unless you are hungry for the best turkey sandwich ever. Then you need to go a little farther to Abbott and the turkey Shop.

Hope it isn’t as bad as it looks.

cozmo on April 18, 2013 at 8:31 AM

The 7 firemen in the responding fire crew are all unaccounted for according to WFAA Dallas.

Limerick on April 18, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Leaving soon to give blood/plasma at one of the local places in the DFW area….That helps too I guess.

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Thanks for all the links. Thanks for all that you are doing.

esr1951 on April 18, 2013 at 8:34 AM

I may be time for another concert at the WH.

Electrongod on April 18, 2013 at 8:16 AM

The rat-eared coward only went to Joplin Mo for a photo-op. He was shamed by Mitt Romney to leave the fundraising circuit to show up in Louisiana to see storm damage. He’s headed off to Boston today to pretend to care about the dead and wounded in Monday’s bombing which he has yet to call terrorism directly. I’ve got to wonder if Air Force One will find its way to Waco anytime soon. I tend to doubt it.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Dang, been there many times. The picture on drudge was taken from in front of the “Czech Stop”. A must stop when traveling through the area. Unless you are hungry for the best turkey sandwich ever. Then you need to go a little farther to Abbott and the turkey Shop.

Hope it isn’t as bad as it looks.

cozmo on April 18, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Yeah…Great Kulachies…Great People.

Firefighters were fighting the fire at the plant…then a Tanker and a corn grainery blew which triggered the giant explosion.

Search and rescue is finding bodies now…

http://www.wfaa.com/

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Yeah…

I try and focus on the incredible charity and bravery of the folks who respond to the crisis…In Boston…Here in Texas…

I think it helps…

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Definitely. Watching those people responding in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s bombing are heros. I’m sure we will hear of similar stories coming out of West as the facts sort themselves out.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:39 AM

background for those reading – West is/was a cute little town inhabited mainly by the descendants of Czech immigrants who founded it in the 19th century. There’s still a Czech festival every year there, or at least there was. Hope and pray they can rebuild – just saw that the plant explosion measured 2.1 on the richter scale.

Tom Servo on April 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Firefighters were fighting the fire at the plant…then a Tanker and a corn grainery blew which triggered the giant explosion.

Search and rescue is finding bodies now…

http://www.wfaa.com/

workingclass artist
on April 18, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Husband is a PhD Chemist immediately said when he heard the firemen had sprayed water on this fire around that particular type of ammonia fumes, that chemical mixture would cause an immediate explosion.

(He should know. He’s covered with scars from explosions in chemical labs at school and other chemical mistakes on the job.)

I’m contacting a plasma center locally to see if I’m eligible as a donor. I do have some health problems….but, I’m checking.

avagreen on April 18, 2013 at 9:15 AM

He said, “You never mix water with (whatever kind) of ammonia. It explodes.

avagreen on April 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

– DEAR MELISSA — WRITE YOUR FREAKIN’ BABY-DADDY AND TELL HIM YOU ARE OK. “STILL HERE” IS FINE. “FU” IS FINE. SOMETHING. –

Axe on April 18, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Gov. Perry will do a press conference at 11:45 am

Waco DPS covering for the local authorities who are swamped in the search & rescue.

WBAP has been doing wall to wall coverage since last night. lots of locals call into the radio station.

http://www.wbap.com/

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Neither. Evil corporation that cares more about profits than the well-being of people.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2013 at 8:11 AM

We have a winner. OSHA + EPA and every other regulatory agency under the sun will be checking their records and investigating to see what the evil company did to cause this. Was the tank inspected and signed off? Was there a hazard emergency plan in place? Were the proper procedures written for dealing with every aspect of the work?

Anyway, I don’t want to sound too pro-the company, but I know what kind of storm is coming at them. People tend to forget that Industry can be inherently dangerous. Some tasks are almost impossible to make 100% safe. If I had to guess at cause, I’d say some employee made a mistake. Unfortunately it turned out to be a fatal one.

Once they figure out cause, if that’s possible after the decimation, I’m sure there will be many new regulations added to try to prevent anything similar. And since there is no cost-benefit analysis, every other company will have to pay to comply, thus raising prices even more for consumers. It’s the price we pay to have 100% safe workplaces.

Free Indeed on April 18, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Tom Servo on April 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM

I went to WestFest during my time at Dallas Seminary. As you can probably tell from my last name (Srch), my heritage is Czech – my mom’s mom left Czechoslovakia shortly before the Nazis came in. I really enjoyed my time in West… but although I’m now in Georgia, I’m hoping to go back one of these days.

psrch on April 18, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Carter Bloodcare Donor sites in the DFW/North Central Texas area.

Burn patients use a lot of Blood and Plasma…so donate today,tomorrow, this week if you can.

Ya’ll have a good morning…and Pray for the folks in Boston,MA & West, Texas as well as the First Responders, their families & that in Boston Law Enforcement arrests the Marathon bomber(s).

ADDISON DONOR CENTER
3959 Belt Line Road
Addison, TX 75001
(972) 960-8895

ARLINGTON DONOR CENTER
1618 West Randol Mill Rd.
Arlington, TX 76012
(817) 274-0812

CEDAR HILL DONOR CENTER
613 Uptown Blvd. Suite 107
Cedar Hill, TX 75104
(972) 572-3917

GARLAND DONOR CENTER
6850 North Shiloh Rd, Suite V
Garland, TX 75044
(972) 437-4483

HEB DONOR CENTER
1731 W. Airport Freeway
Bedford, TX 76021
(817) 283-4787

IRVING DONOR CENTER
3557 N Beltline Road
Irving, TX 75062
(972) 258-0055

LEWISVILLE DONOR CENTER
1565 W. Main, Suite 475
Lewisville, TX 75067
(972) 219-1666

LONGVIEW DONOR CENTER
3080 N. Eastman Suite 112
Longview, TX 75605
(903) 663-2650

MARSHALL DONOR CENTER
1000 East End Blvd North
STE 500
Marshall, TX 75670
(903) 935-3831

MT PLEASANT DONOR CENTER
1401 S Jefferson St
Mount Pleasant, TX 75745
(903) 572-3629

PLANO DONOR CENTER
4709 W. Parker Rd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-2098

ROSEDALE DONOR CENTER
1263 W. Rosedale St.
Fort Worth, TX 76104
(817) 335-4935

WACO DONOR CENTER
4332 W. Waco Dr.
Waco, TX 76710
(254) 297-4150

ALLEN DONOR CENTER
1328 West McDermott Dr.
Suite 250
Allen, TX 75013
(214) 509-0550

BAYLOR DONOR CENTER
4201 Gaston Ave.
Suite 110
Dallas, TX 75246
(214) 217-5676

DENTON DONOR CENTER
2215 South Loop 288
Suite 335
Denton, TX 76205
(940) 383-2055

GRAND PRAIRIE DONOR CENTER
4146 S. Carrier Pkwy., Ste 630
Grand Prairie, TX 75052
(972) 988-6051

HULEN DONOR CENTER
4975 S. Hulen St.
Fort Worth, TX 76132
(817) 263-5810

KELLER DONOR CENTER
101 Town Center Ln
(Hwy 1709 & Rufe Snow)
Keller, TX 76248
(817) 337-1520

LOCKHEED DONOR CENTER (EMPLOYEES ONLY)
1 Lockheed Blvd
Lockheed Employees Only
White Settlement, TX 76108
(817) 762-1551

MANSFIELD DONOR CENTER
920 US Hwy 287 N, Suite 210
Mansfield, TX 76063
(817) 539-0244

MESQUITE DONOR CENTER
1515 N. Town East Blvd
Suite 151
Mesquite, TX 75150
(972) 270-2185

PARIS DONOR CENTER
3305 Loop 286 Ste E
Paris, TX 75460
(903) 785-9399

PRESTON VALLEY DONOR CENTER
12835 Preston Rd.
Dallas, TX 75230
(972) 980-9210

TYLER DONOR CENTER
815 South Baxter Avenue
Tyler, TX 75701
(903) 535-5400

WEATHERFORD DONOR CENTER
116 East Interstate 20
Suite #151
Weatherford, TX 76087
(817) 594-4251

website link:
https://ww2.greatpartners.org/donor/schedules/geo

workingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Update: From commenter WorkingClass Artist, here is some key information for those in the area. It’s posted in the comments section, too.
http://www.kxxv.com/story/22009727/central-texas-facilties-open-doors-for-west-survivors

Now that’s America helping Americans. What an amazing response in preparedness and goodwill. I’m sure it’s even growing as we speak.

No one’s taxes had to be raised and no bureaucrats got to siphon off cash for their coffers. I’d bet Obama’s still busy picking out which set of golf clubs to use today.

Oxymoron on April 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

It’s amazing more people weren’t hurt. I have to echo what other people have said…why in the world was a residential area so close to the plant?

changer1701 on April 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM

changer1701 on April 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM

The plant was over 50 years old. The town grew up around it.

Limerick on April 18, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I try and focus on the incredible charity and bravery of the folks who respond to the crisis…In Boston…Here in Texas…

I think it helps…

Fworkingclass artist on April 18, 2013 at 8:27 AM

This.

chemman on April 18, 2013 at 10:32 AM

He said, “You never mix water with (whatever kind) of ammonia. It explodes.

avagreen on April 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

It doesn’t matter whether it is an acid or a base (ammonia is a base). If you need to dilute you slowly add the substance to the water. Quickly adding water generates lots and lots of heat. At that point the rest is history.

chemman on April 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Now that’s America helping Americans. What an amazing response in preparedness and goodwill. I’m sure it’s even growing as we speak.

No one’s taxes had to be raised and no bureaucrats got to siphon off cash for their coffers. …
Oxymoron on April 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

This is the major cause of economic problems, every nation, every era.
I have no real objection to taxation that helps the truly needy (properly structured, it shifts money the same way insurance does); but the corruption and skimming far exceeds any rational private-enterprise gains.
(Was going to write “profit” but that’s what is left after the management salaries, bonuses, and kickbacks get paid.)
Also, there is plenty of corruption in business, but that’s what the government is supposed to prevent or prosecute.
No one can effectively control government corruption.

Prayers for all those affected in West.

AesopFan on April 18, 2013 at 11:08 AM

There’s still a Czech festival every year there, or at least there was. Hope and pray they can rebuild – just saw that the plant explosion measured 2.1 on the richter scale.

Tom Servo on April 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Czech Texans are quietly tough people. They will ask, “What is this word, quit?” when tough times come. There will be a festival and they will rebuild.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 18, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Sorry as i am to say this – when all the reports come in from the “real” (non political) investigations – the firemen will have made the situation worse and they paid the price. Even the best trained hazmat team might have made similar errors without complete information on what was inside. There was probably a safety person from the company that had some clue but volunteer fire departments lack training to combat a fire such as this. Even with the “local” knowledge that should have been given about the products inside the plant volunteers just can not be expected to handle this fire- IT WAS FAR TOO DANGEROUS. Find your major city hazmat chief and ask him – you will find out just how hopeless success could have ever been even with the very best training and equipment. A real shame to ask so much from so few with almost no chance

minus200 on April 18, 2013 at 8:24 PM