Not long after explosions tragically disrupted the Boston marathon, another tragedy struck on the other side of the country. At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, an enormous Texas fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded shortly afterward. The plant, located in West, Texas, was leveled by a magnitude 2.1 blast, according to the United State Geological Survey.
“It was like being in a tornado,” Debby Marak, a religious teacher in the town, told the Associated Press. “It blew out my windshield. It was like the whole earth shook.”
The explosion knocked out power in West and could be heard and felt from nearly 50 miles away. Several city blocks were leveled in the tiny town of just 2,800 inhabitants. Up to 75 homes and an apartment complex were destroyed. Garage doors flew off of their hinges, windows shattered, and a local school caught fire. Governor Rick Perry has asked all Americans to keep everyone affected by the tragedy in their prayers.
So far, 12 bodies have been recovered from the debris. One of the victims was Kenny Harris, the captain of a small group of volunteer firefighters that initially rushed toward the plant to battle a pre-explosion blaze. 200 others were left injured by the blast, which was described by onlookers as an enormous fireball accompanied by a mushroom cloud.
The main fire was finally under control as of 11 p.m. on Thursday, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman D.L. Wilson. However, there is still a threat of explosions or ammonia leaks from the plant’s ruins.
Despite the tragedy, the people of West have not lost hope. People in the community are already helping those who lost their homes. Sgt. William Swanton of the Waco police said, “I can promise you, the city of West’s citizens will not let a person stand out in the rain, whether they know you or not, they will bring you into their home and you will be comfortable.”