BREAKING: Many fatalities are feared and hundreds were injured in a massive explosion on Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant outside of Waco, Texas. The blast destroyed numerous residential buildings including a nursing home, authorities said.
The blast was reported at about 8:00 pm local time in West, a town of 2,800 people near Waco and 90 miles north of Austin.
Local volunteer firemen were fighting a raging fire at the plant when a large fertilizer tank blew up in a nuclear-like explosion that was reportedly felt for 100 miles. The firefighters are unaccounted for and assumed to be among the dead. A second tank has not exploded but may still, authorities said.
The area is being evacuated as large plumes of ammonia and other gases are drifting towards the Fort Worth area. Texas is one of the most notorious states for its lax zoning laws which allow toxic industrial plants to be located where they shouldn't be.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting:
The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show.
West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.
But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.
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A man was filming the fire while sitting in his truck with his 12-year old daughter when he caught the massive blast on his cell phone video:
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Location of the West Fertilizer Company plant abutting residential neighborhoods and a middle school:
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West has been in my backyard all my life.My heart is praying for the community that we call home. #westtx
— Willie Nelson (@willienelson) April 18, 2013
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