The tragedies and prayers keep flowing through the United States as death has struck again in Texas this time. An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage to nearby buildings and injuring numerous people.
Several firefighters have also been injured, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
Department of Public Safety troopers were using their squad cars to transport those injured by the blast and fire at the plant, a spokeswoman for the department’s Waco office said. She said six helicopters were also en route to help out.
West is located about 120 miles north of Austin, or about 20 miles north of Waco. The plant is located at 1471 Jerry Mashek Drive , just east of Interstate 35.
Debby Marak told The Associated Press that when she finished teaching her religion class Wednesday night, she noticed a lot of smoke coming from 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 out of her car two boys ran toward her screaming that the authorities told them to leave because the plant was going to explode. She said she drove about a block before the blast happened.
“It was like being in a tornado,” the 58-year-old said by phone. “Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield.”
“It was like the whole earth shook.”
Check out This Video Here. Facebook.
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.”
A dispatcher with the West Fire Department says the explosion happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday night. She said injured residents would be taken to hospitals in Waco.
The high school football field, which was being used as a staging area, was later evacuated due to a concern of another explosion. A triage center has now been set up at the town’s community center.
At 10 p.m., the fertilizer plant was still burning.
Several homes have been destroyed and many others are damaged. At one point, people were trapped inside buildings.
McLennan County first responders are calling for all hands on deck. Ellis County is sending the South County Strike Team and several volunteer fire departments to the town of West to help out.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
KXAS, the NBC affiliate in Dallas, said people as far north as Arlington felt the explosion.
American Red Cross crews from across Texas are being sent to the site.
Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says her group is working with emergency management officials in the town of West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes. She says teams from Austin to Dallas and elsewhere are being sent to the community north of Waco.
Family looking for information on patients being taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center can call 254-202-1100.