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West’s mayor pro tem, Steve Vanek announced today that stage one of “several upcoming reentry stages” will begin this afternoon at 3 p.m.
According to Vanek, state fire marshalls and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms have been investigating the area devastated by Wednesday night’s fertilizer plant explosion and it has been determined that residents living between Oak Street and Walnut Street in West can assemble at the corner of Tokyo Road and Reagan Street to return to their home on a limited basis this afternoon. Vanek also assured citizens and media that the rumors of lingering health hazards and possible secondary explosions were unfounded.
“Everything is safe, any rumors that you’ve heard today — forget about it,” Vanek said.
According to Vanek residents returning to the area should expect limited access to water, electricity and natural gas. Vanek also announced a curfew that has gone into effect immediately. Residents over the age of 18 are allowed access to the area between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., after which they either need to leave the impacted area or stay in their property “at their own risk.” Only authorized vehicles no larger than a pickup truck are allowed in the reentry area and no more than two are allowed per residence. Vanek also warned against broken glass, nails and other debris in roadways and yards.
“Please be patient and cooperative with our law enforcement officers,” Vanek said.
Vanek also confirmed that among the 14 confirmed casualties of the explosion were West firefighters, West EMS personnel and people from the city of Abbot.
Federal agencies have set up operations at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in West.