DALLAS, Texas — A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked the town of West, north of Waco, causing multiple injuries and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.
Several firefighters were reported among those injured during the explosion, which occurred before 8 p.m. at West Fertilizer Inc., just off Interstate 35 about 80 miles south of Dallas.
Authorities were asking residents of the town to evacuate, and there were reports of dozens of people injured, including residents of a nearby nursing home.
“The fertilizer plant down here exploded,” Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Czech Best Western Hotel in West, said. “It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonia nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb.
“I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows,” Shelton said. “There’s houses leveled that were right next to it. We’ve got people injured and possibly dead.”
About 10 buildings were reported to be on fire, including West Middle School and a nearby nursing home. A dispatcher calling for multiple ambulances said, “We do have a lot of injured here.”
Department of Public Safety troopers were taking some victims to hospitals in Waco, which is about 20 miles south of West.
West ISD trustee Crystal Anthony said she and her daughter were “knocked back” by the blast as they stood blocks away from the plant.
“A nearby nursing home is really bad; there’s an apartment complex and … (West Middle School) that caught fire,” she told The Waco Tribune-Herald. “We’ve been moving patients out of the nursing home and taking them to the football field and gymnastics building.”
People as far away as 50 miles away reported feeling what seemed like an earthquake.
West firefighters had gone to the plant earlier in the evening after a fire rekindled, according to KWTX-TV.