It was a quiet Wednesday evening in the city of West, Texas, which is just about 20 or 30 minutes away from Waco and 80 minutes or so away from Dallas. Suddenly, many residents in the city noticed flames coming from the West Fertilizer Company plant around 6 in the evening. At first glance, it appeared that it was just an ordinary fire and that the fire department would quickly arrive on the scene to extinguish the flames.
However, what many people forgot to consider was the fact that anhydrous ammonia is a chemical used by fertilizer plants, which is extremely combustible. Despite the quick arrival by fire fighting crews, there was nothing that could have been done about the fire. The flames were already hundreds of feet in the air. In fact, they were so high that the FAA issued a no fly zone within a substantial boundary of the facility. Additionally, they ordered that planes were not to fly below 3,000 feet.
There are a fair amount of home videos circulating around the Internet today that show what happened from a distance that put the videographers themselves right in the path of danger. In fact, there is one video, possibly the best one, where a father and son are on the scene when the fire has just begun. They sit there for a while filming the fire, and the next thing you know a loud boom is heard and their car is rattling. Luckily, they had their windows rolled down to relieve the pressure inside the vehicle, or their windows would have likely been shattered- resulting in serious cuts if not death.
When many of the residents in the area first heard the explosion, their first thoughts, as you might imagine considering the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred just a couple of days beforehand, was that a bomb had been set off at the plant. Although officials, at this time, believe that this was purely accidental, we cannot blame these people for suspecting that this was yet another act of terrorism. Law enforcement officials say that hundreds of people were seriously injured in the community, and that there may be 15 or more people dead. One of the greatest challenges they are currently facing is that cell phone connections are down and people have been evacuated, so it may be hard to separate the missing from those who lost their lives.