West plant explodes, city evacuated

Screen-Shot-2013-04-17-at-11.27.04-PMLariat Staff

WEST, TEXAS – An explosion caused by a fire at a fertilizer plant shocked the city of West tonight. A fire at a fertilizer plant outside of the city of West caused an explosion that rocked the small town causing fires and severe damage to nearby buildings. A nursing home burned to the ground, but everyone inside the building was evacuated. An independent school in the area was partially burned. A house was also destroyed.

West Mayor Tommy Muska, who is a volunteer firefighter in West, said the first explosion hit around 7 p.m. He said he was responding to a fire at the fertilizer plant when he felt “an enormous blast.” One window was blown out of his truck and his hat was blown off as well.

While there is no official number of casualties, many reports suggest the number may be as high as 60. Hundreds were injured. The injured who were taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco number 61. Forty-four of those are in serious condition. At the time of a press conference given by HIillcrest CEO Glen Robinson, minor injuries were pushing towards 30. There are six choppers transporting injured to Hillcrest. The emergency room is being handled with the help of between 250 to 300 additional staff members who responded to the need for more assistance.

Arriving family members are instructed to go to Austin Auditorium on the first floor of Hillcrest Hospital.

Other wounded people are being taken to Providence Hospital, Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Hill Regional Hospital in Hillsboro and McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White.

The city has been evacuated because of concerns of a secondary explosion and exposure to chemicals from the plant.

Carter Blood Care will be open Thursday for blood donations for the victims.

At 11:33 p.m., an email was sent by BaylorNewsFlash to faculty and students of Baylor.

“The explosions tonight in West have shocked and saddened us all. We are eager to be of assistance,” the email stated. “Baylor is a cooperating organization with the McLennan County Office of Emergency Management, and we are prepared to provide services to those affected by this emergency. We remain in contact with emergency responders from the County and also with local emergency response organizations. We will notify the campus community of any forthcoming requests for University assistance.”

A candlelight ceremony for the victims will be held in front of Waco Hall at midnight.