A fire at a West, Texas fertilizer plant raging for over 30 minutes would have been devastating enough on its own…but then…a massive explosion.
Across town, they heard the sound…first the boom!
Families tell us they could feel the explosion in their bones, pulling out their cell phones to capture the video just before 8:00 p.m.. Whole portions of their town were wiped out.
D.L. Wilson/ Department of Public Safety
“Massive, just like Iraq, just like the Murray building in Oklahoma City, same kind of hydrous exploded, so you can imagine what kind of damage we're
looking a there,” says D.L. Wilson, of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Firefighters had been fighting the flames since 6:30 p.m…when something at the at the West Fertilizer Plant ignited, and the explosion that followed
sent a mushroom cloud high into the sky.
“It looked like a nuclear bomb, it really did. It was scary, I never experienced anything like this in my life,” said one witness.
“We got a lot of firemen down…We need every ambulance we can get this way. It's pretty bad,” a dispatcher said.
Many of the 2,800 people here were just finishing dinner when the shockwaves of the blast blew down their doors…and shattered their windows
The blast so powerful it registered as an earthquake…2.1 on the scale…and was felt up to 45 miles away. It destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses in one small 5-block radius, including a nearby school and a nursing home where residents were being evacuated when the roof came crashing down.
Overnight, more than 100 shaken residents poured into nearby hospitals and a makeshift triage center near a few miles from the blast. Emergency workers were going door to door in the dark, hoping to find missing residents alive.
The mayor of West, Texas said, “we've got a lot of people who are hurt, and there's a lot of people, I'm sure, who aren't gonna be here tomorrow…”