WKTX: WACO (April 17, 2013)–West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people died and hundreds were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West.
A rescuer earlier said he knew of five deaths.
Meanwhile, emergency crews were pulling back late Wednesday night because of concerns about the possibility of a second explosion.
Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded just before 8 p.m. Wednesday after the first explosion at the plant in the small town north of Waco.
The explosion was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at West Fertilizer at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35.
The fire started in an anhydrous ammonia tank and spread to the building, authorities said.
The resulting explosion spread the fire to the Middle School and to a nearby nursing home.
The blast was felt throughout the city and as far away as Hillsboro, Whitney and Blum.
Most of the injuries resulted from debris being thrown from the blast, glass, doors and other shrapnel, authorities said.
Everyone within one mile of the fire was ordered to evacuate.
Numerous injuries were reported and multiple ambulances were requested.
About 60 people had been taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center by shortly before 10 p.m.
There were reports at around 9:45 p.m. that a second tank containing anhydrous ammonia was on fire, but authorities said that was the only fire still burning in the town.
Because of the threat of another explosion, emergency crews were being moved from the football field to another staging area.