On Wednesday, April 17, just before 8 p.m., the West Fertilizer Plant outside of Waco, Texas exploded. Per early reports, several buildings were damaged and countless people are believed to have suffered severe injuries. The reported victims include workers at the plant and firefighters who were responding to an earlier fire call, as well as residents who were trapped in a nearby nursing home and apartment building.
One local hospital, the Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, has already started to receive patients and has called in their entire medical staff in anticipation of the other victims. The CEO of Hillcrest Hospital, Glenn Robinson, told CNN that there has also been a field triage station set up in a nearby football field for emergency medical care. Many of the victims were being transported by ambulance, as well as private vehicles and even patrol cars. The Waco Department of Public Safety stated that more than six helicopters were dispatched to help transport the injured.
Immediately following the plant explosion, witnesses reported seeing plumes of smoke and flames rise high into the air. Reports have indicated that people up to fifteen miles away were able to feel the effects of the explosion. One employee at a local convenience center approximately three miles from the plant said that there were volunteer firefighters at the store when they spotted smoke. The Waco Department of Public Safety later specified that firefighters were on the scene when the explosion occurred after responding to an earlier fire call.
After the explosion, witnesses have reported that a nursing home, funeral home, and apartment complex all suffered property damage and that West Middle School was on fire. Currently, more than 2,000 customers of the local power utility company are without power; evacuations are underway to clear the area as crews still battle the fire. Hazardous material teams have also been sent to the scene and investigators are working hard to determine the cause of the explosion.
The victims and their families of this tragic explosion are in our thoughts and prayers. We will continue to follow this story and update our blog with more news as it becomes available.
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