Texas Plant Explosion Injures 200, Levels Homes, Businesses

Several structures were on fire including a school, authorities said.

ByABC News
April 17, 2013, 10:24 PM

April 17, 2013— -- A fiery explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant in a small town 19 miles north of Waco has injured 200 people and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, an emergency official said.

Of the 200 people injured near the West, Texas, plant, 40 were injured critically, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Gail Scarborough said.

It was unclear whether or not there were deaths.

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Besides the injuries, 75 to 100 houses and business were completely destroyed in and around the plant, Scarborough said.

"It's total chaos," West City Councilwoman Cheryl Marak said, according to ABC News Radio. "There's ambulances and fire trucks and police cars from everywhere."

Marak told ABC News affiliate WFAA that the blast killed her pets and heavily damaged the local middle school.

"I was watching the flames and then it was just like a huge, huge explosion and two houses, I mean, it demolished both of those," Marak said, according to ABC News Radio. "I think everything around us is pretty much just gone."

Keith Williams, a local resident, said his house also was completely destroyed, according to ABC News Radio.

"All the ceilings are out," Williams said. "The windows are out. The brick's knocked off the house. My big garage out back is half blowed in."

He also saw "people with all their houses tore up across the street from me, on each side of me."

The West Fertilizer Plant exploded around 8 p.m. local time, and there were subsequent explosions around 10 p.m., WFAA reported. The cause of the explosions was unconfirmed, but a dispatcher was heard warning crews to move away from chemicals in unexploded tanks.

Firefighters initially went to the scene of a structure fire at the plant.

"They are still on scene, assessing the scene, treating the injuries, taking injured to the hospitals," Dani Moore, a spokeswoman for State Highway Patrol told ABC News Radio.

At least 10 buildings in the town of West were on fire, including a school located next to the plant, WFAA reported initially.

The town of West has a population of about 2,800.