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UPDATED – Live video & radio traffic, videos of explosion, initial radio traffic: 3 or 4 firefighters still missing in West, TX fertilizer plant explosion. One police officer/firefighter found in hospital. Latest estimate 5 to 15 people dead & more than 100 injured.

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The number of people dead following the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last night is still unclear, with varying reports coming from different officials and news organizations. What is consistent in the reporting is that firefighters and paramedics are among the dead and unaccounted for.

A briefing at 8:30 local time again confirmed again there are missing firefighters. At the briefing it was also reported that a police officer/volunteer firefighter initially reported as missing as found this morning at a Waco hospital suffering serious injuries.

Here is the latest.

Update at 8:30 a.m. Thursday: Sgt W. Patrick Swanton, the Waco police spokesman handling media briefings in West, said at a press conference a little after 8:20 this morning that search and rescue teams are still looking for survivors.

That “is good news to me,” he said. That means authorities have “not gotten to the point of no return.”
Swanton did not update the number of those injured or killed, and he did not release names of any of the casualties. He repeated the earlier figure of five to 15 people killed but said that’s based on “very limited” information from “folks at the scene,” including local, state and federal officials.

One emergency worker who had been reported as missing, a constable serving as a volunteer firefighter, has been found hospitalized with “serious” injuries. Three or four first responders, among the first to fight the fire before the fertilizer plant exploded shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday, remain missing, Swanton said.

Swanton also said a “small amount” of looting was reported overnight.


Rescuers continued working Thursday morning in West in spite of a cold rain after a long night of door-to-door searches for victims of a Wednesday night explosion that killed between 5 and 15 people and injured more than 100 more.

Six firefighters and two paramedics are confirmed dead and seven nursing home residents were missing after the blast according to West EMS Director Dr. George Smith, who said earlier Wednesday night as many as 60 or 70 people may have died in the blast at West Fertilizer.

One police officer who was reported missing was located Thursday morning at Waco hospital where he was being treated for several injuries.

Smith said early Thursday morning he expects more bodies will be found during the search of damaged and destroyed homes.


At 4:15 a.m., West, Texas EMS director Dr. George Smith confirmed that two paramedics lost their lives in Tuesday night’s explosion at West Fertilizer Company. He said six firefighters remained unaccounted for.

A Facebook page was established in memory of several firefighters who reportedly perished in the blast.

“This is a crime scene,” Sgt. Swanton said. “Until we know that it is an industrial accident, we will work it as a crime scene.”

Waco Tribune & Herald:

UPDATE, 8:40 a.m.: Officials say three or four West volunteer firefighters remain missing as they believe between five and 15 were killed in the explosion at West Fertilizer Co.

One law enforcement official who was presumed missing has been found and is being treated for significant injuries at a hospital, said Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton.

Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing in the neighborhood closest to the plant and Swanton said there has been reports of possible looting.


A major explosion occurred Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in the  city of West, near Hillsboro in north-central Texas – killing between five and  15  people and injuring at least 160 more.

Waco Police Spokesperson Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said a fire began  Wednesday evening at the West Fertilizer plant. Fifty minutes later, an  explosion was reported in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at the  plant at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35.

NBC News:

At least five to 15 people were killed and more than 160 wounded when a large fertilizer plant explosion rocked a small Texas town late Wednesday, destroying dozens of homes under a cloud of toxic smoke, police said.

Between three and five firefighters were still missing, Waco, Texas, police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton told reporters early Thursday.

Firefighters, including local volunteers, were battling a blaze at the time of the blast, which caused a ground tremor equivalent to a magnitude-2.1 earthquake, the USGS said. In Amarillo, Texas, a seismograph recorded the blast with a magnitude of 2.5, Swanton said.


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Comments - Add Yours

  • Norhtern Chief

    Lets pray for all them involved………….Very Sad Situation

  • Rob in AL

    Prayers for fellow FF’s and community. Amazing response. News reports say 700+ Police/Fire/EMS/Hospital first responders. We hate to sit thru those boring NIMS classes, but this why we do it!

  • USNG08
  • firefighthero

    Prayers to our fellow Brothers and civilians lost in this tragedy.

  • Anonymous

    Say a prayer for all those affected. The video of the actual explosion was horrific.

  • Zach W

    Prayers go out to all of texas its a heart break that 6 brothers died prayers to everyones family

  • Tom Nichols

    Prayers to all that were killed and injured.On a somber note though I guess nothing was learned in the fertilizer ship in Houston that leveled Texas City when it blew up!

    • Fire21

      A lot was learned. No similar event has occurred since then. This explosion in West was a different product: Ammonium nitrate in Texas City, versus anhydrous ammonia in West.

      • CHAOS

        News reports are now stating that the plant had recently reported that they were now storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate. For camparison, the OKC bombers used about a ton, the Texas City ship, the Grandcamp, carried 2,300 tons.

        I take offense to the statement that “nothing was learned”, also. Clueless. For starters, the ship wasn’t in Houston (duh), that’s why Texas City blew up not Houston. From an emergency response point of view, plenty has been learned about ammonium nitrate. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a situation where this FD could just take option #1 and back up and let nature take its course. They had a LOT of civilians, including a nursing home, that needed to be evacuated. Not many FDs, I hope, would just bail out and let the citizens of their hometown sit there and die without making an effort to save as many as possible.

        Thoughts and prayers to the survivors, especially the families of the lost.

    • mark

      And, from reports given, they were attempting to evacuate when it blew.

      But beyond that, everything is speculation at this point, so why even do that Tom? They’re still looking for bodies, let’s not jump to conclusions.

      I’m pretty much speechless, prayers to the brothers in Texas.

  • Fire21

    May God have mercy on all those affected by this tragedy, especially the brothers and sisters in emergency services.