Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

April 17, 2013

UPDATE: Texas fertilizer plant blast injures dozens

WEST, Texas — A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco on Wednesday night injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin following a blast that damaged buildings for blocks in every direction.

The explosion at West Fertilizer in West, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened shortly before 8 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north, and throughout Navarro County.

Tommy Muska, West's mayor, said at a news conference three hours after the explosion that he didn't yet know how many people had been injured or killed. He said buildings in a five-block radius from the plant were severely damaged by the explosion.

Among the damaged buildings was the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs. "We did get there and got that taken care of," Muska said.

Information was hard to come by in the hours after the blast, with even Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying state officials were waiting for details about the extent of the damage.

"We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident," Perry said in a statement. "We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene."

Aerial footage showed fires still smoldering in the ruins of the plant and in several surrounding buildings, and people being treated for injuries on a flood-lit local football field, which had been turned into a staging area for emergency responders.

Debby Marak told The Associated Press that when she finished teaching her religion class Wednesday night, she noticed a lot of smoke in the area across town near the plant, which is near a nursing home. She said she drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got there, two boys came running toward her screaming that the authorities ordered everyone out because the plant was going to explode.

She said she drove about a block when the blast happened.

"It was like being in a tornado," Marak, 58, said by phone. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield."

"It was like the whole earth shook."

She drove 10 blocks and called her husband and asked him to come get her. When they got to their home about 2 miles south of town, her husband told her what he'd seen: a huge fireball that rose like "a mushroom cloud."

The explosion caused the roof of what appeared to be a housing complex of some kind to collapse. In aerial footage from NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate, KXAS, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. Entry into West was slow-going, as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help out.

Authorities set up a staging area on a flood-lit high school football field, where the injured were being treated or taken to area hospitals via road or helicopter.

Glenn A. Robinson, the chief executive of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, told CNN that his hospital had received 66 injured people for treatment, including 38 who were seriously hurt. He said the injuries included blast injuries, orthopedic injuries, large wounds and a lot of lacerations and cuts. The hospital has set up a hotline for families of the victims to get information, he said.

Robinson did not immediately return messages from the AP.

American Red Cross crews from across Texas were being sent to the site, the organization said. 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. She said teams from Austin to Dallas and elsewhere are being sent to the community north of Waco.

A West Fire Department dispatcher said any casualties would be transported to hospitals in Waco, which is about 90 miles north of Austin.

The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.

Brad Smith, who lives 45 miles north of West in Waxahachie, told the station that he and his wife heard what sounded like a thunderclap.

Lydia Zimmerman, told KWTX that she, her husband and daughter were in their garden in Bynum, 13 miles from West, when they heard multiple blasts.

"It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us," she said.

Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist with National Earthquake Information Center of the U.S. Geological Survey, said the explosion did not register on a seismograph because most of the blast's energy dissipated in the atmosphere.

Navarro County OEM is monitoring the situation in the event any additional assistance is requested. Eric Meyers, Emergency Management Coordiantor, said West officials felt they had adequate personnel on site as of 11  p.m. Wednesday.

 

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Navarro College seeks public input at Town Hall event

    Community perception of the role Navarro College plays, and how it can better serve Corsicana and Navarro County is the goal of a Town Hall meeting called at the college for Monday, April 21. The town hall presentation will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Dr. Richard M. Sanchez Library on the Corsicana campus.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-16-14 DowntownHop.jpg Annual 'Hop Downtown' Easter party Thursday

    The Easter Bunny will once again be making its annual pre-Easter stop in Corsicana Thursday for an appearance at the Downtown Corsicana “Hop Downtown” party. The event is taking place from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with activities up and down Beaton Street in downtown Corsicana.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16-14 Derrick Days meeting.jpg Countdown to Derrick Days

    A small town hosting a big event like Derrick Days takes a lot of volunteers, coordination and details — lots and lots of details. That's what Tuesday's meeting of the Derrick Days Committee consisted of, nailing down the last-minute wrinkles to make sure things run smoothly next week.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police advise caution with roof repair

    After the hail storm Monday, the Corsicana Police Department began receiving several calls from citizens reporting roofing contractors going door to door soliciting to inspect and repair roofs from possible hail damage.

    April 15, 2014

  • Moment of silence marks Boston Marathon bombings

    Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed came together Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing with solemn ceremonies.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15-14 TaxDay.jpg Ready for the IRS?

    The calendar shows April 15, and you haven't even started on your federal tax return? Chances are, you don't need to fret. If you're due a refund — and about three-fourths of filers get refunds — April 15 isn't much of a deadline at all.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-15-14 Hail6.jpg ‘All Hail Corsicana’ - Monday storms, Tuesday freeze?

    A Monday morning thunderstorm in the aftermath of Sunday's stormy weather in Texas brought hail up to golf ball in size to parts of Navarro County. And that storm — typical of spring and summertime weather in Texas — preceded by less than 24 hours a forecast of expected near-freezing temperatures.

    April 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • City OK’s electronic billboard

    The Corsicana City Council is going to tell the city's story in a big, big way — on a 48 foot wide electronic billboard on Interstate 45. The council approved the purchase and construction of the new sign Monday, one that will help promote city events and attractions, and hopefully attract visitors — and their dollars — to the city's businesses and events.

    April 14, 2014

  • 4-15-14 Hollomon award.jpg Funding sought to upgrade dam on Chatfield Road

    The Navarro County Soil Conservation Commission is seeking some funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put into a dam out on Chatfield Road, according to a vote taken Monday at the Navarro County Commissioners meeting.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Beat for 4/15/14

    A listing of meetings and events of interest from throughout Navarro County.

    April 14, 2014

AP Video
Twitter Updates