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UPDATED: Search & rescue operation ended in West, TX. NFFF sets up fund. Latest on fire and EMS deaths from explosion.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday afternoon that the search and rescue operation has ended now that responders have found 14 bodies. At least 11 emergency responders are presumed dead after the massive explosion and blaze at the West Fertilizer Co. facility near Waco.

At an afternoon news conference, Perry called the damage in West “pretty stunning.” The fertilizer facility had at least 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, Texas Health Department records show. That is 100 times more than what was used in the Oklahoma City bombing 18 years ago Friday.

Chris Barron, the executive director of the State Firemen’s & Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas, said his organization has calculated that 11 first responders died in West.

They are five West volunteer firefighters, a retired firefighter who assisted West, a Dallas Fire-Rescue captain who lived in the town and four emergency medical technicians, Barron said. He said some bodies recovered haven’t been identified yet.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said the bodies were found “in the area” of the facility that exploded. He did not say how many were found at the explosion site and how many were recovered from surrounding buildings. Mayor Pro-tem Steve Vanek confirmed that five of West’s 33 firefighters, including the city secretary, died in the explosion

From the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation:

In light of the tragic event in West, Texas on Wednesday and in cooperation with local support efforts, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has established a national fund to accept monetary donations to assist the survivors and coworkers of the fire and EMS personnel who died in the line of duty.

Click here to donate

Texas Department of Public Safety officials confirmed Friday the deaths of 12 people and injuries to about 200 more in the West explosion.

“It is with a heavy heart that I can confirm that 12 individuals have been recovered from the fertilizer plant explosion,” said DPS Sgt. Jason Reyes.

Reyes did not specify where, exactly, the bodies were found, or whether the victims were first responders. West Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek, a volunteer firefighter, confirmed West VFD lost five of its 33 members in blast.

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Thursday evening authorities began removing the bodies of what are expected to be 12 firefighters from the smoldering crater that was West Fertilizer Co. and more bodies of residents in the complex, said longtime West Justice of the Peace David Pareya.

The removal of the dead began in the evening with a private ceremony out of view of the media or public where other firefighters lined up as the bodies were brought out, Pareya said.


Police have confirmed that 12 people are dead and more than 200 were injured after Wednesday’s fertilizer plant blast in West.

The bodies have been sent to a forensics lab in Dallas for identification.

By the numbers:

200 injuries reported

150 buildings destroyed

50 buildings cleared by search and rescue teams

25 buildings yet to be cleared

3 fire trucks destroyed

1 EMS vehicle destroyed 


We’re learning more about the firefighters who bravely responded to a massive  fire at the West Fertilizer plant and lost their lives in the explosion. FOX4  has learned four victims have been identified as firefighters. One of them is  from North Texas.

Perry Calvin worked as a volunteer firefighter from Frost in Navarro County.  He worked alongside his father who’s the fire chief there.

Captain Kenny Harris was a member of Dallas Fire Rescue, Station 30. He was  in West with his family and responded to the fire on his own. 

It’s being reported there was an intense smell of ammonia before the fire and  explosion.

West Volunteer Fire Department members quickly responded to alarms from the  plant. They went inside to rescue the people right before the whole building  blew up. A cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
Dallas News |


The names of the dead were becoming known in the town of 2,800, even if they hadn’t been officially released, as early as Thursday afternoon.

Believed to be among them is a small group of firefighters and other first responders who may have rushed toward the fire to fight it before the blast. At a church service at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church on Thursday night, the mourning was already starting.

“We know everyone that was there first, in the beginning,” said Christina Rodarte, 46, who has lived in West for 27 years. “There’s no words for it. It is a small community, and everyone knows the first responders, because anytime there’s anything going on, the fire department is right there, all volunteer.”

One victim who Rodarte knew and whose name was released was Kenny Harris, a 52-year-old captain in the Dallas Fire Department who lived south of West. He was off duty at the time but responded to the fire to help, according to a statement from the city of Dallas. 


Comments - Add Yours

  • agates1272

    This is just an unimaginable loss. I’m at a total loss for words….

    Rest well Brothers and Sisters…

  • Pingback: 12 Bodies Recovered in West, Texas Explosion. 11 Fire & EMS Personnel Believed Among the Missing & Dead. Search and Rescue Still Underway | The Fire Critic()

  • NJSteve

    I find it amazing that this doesn’t even seem to be a national story any longer due to the Boston bombings.

    Simply incredible that with a confirmed death toll of at least 14, this story seems to have all but been wiped from mainstream national network coverage. But, I did see a short piece on PBS.

    Hopefully, the 2nd bomber suspect will be caught and this might change.

  • Fire21

    It won’t change, unfortunately, because what happened in Boston was in a huge city. West, Texas is just a spot on the map. In Boston, tens of thousands were affected; in West, it was “only” a few thousand. Boston was an act of terror; West was an industrial accident. In Boston, there is a live suspect who now has to go through the American justice system. In West there is no crime, so no national investigation or trial. This is my opinion of the American fascination with jurisprudence and not with non-criminal activities.

    Unfortunately, in West there were 12 or more dead, whereas in Boston it was “only” 3. Boston now has reason to celebrate. West is still grieving and trying to understand how their lives have changed. Boston will pretty much be Boston tomorrow…West will never be the West that it was.

    • mom-e

      Unfortunately, I believe you are right. I have been posting about this since I saw the 1st articles on Wednesday evening. I have checked anyplace to find updates and on Thurs. AM, questioned on my FB page why no news agencies were covering this. The most info I received on my own was from Drudge, only site up to date on ALL stories. And from my friends in Texas. My heart and prayers are going out to all affected by this. Especially to all first responders

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  • Just A Fireman

    Brothers and sisters, don’t forget your ERGs. It was first reported this facility had a significant amount of anhydrous ammonia. It is now being reported they also had ammonium nitrate, which was never reported to Homeland Security. Both substances present significant hazards when exposed to fire. Anhydrous ammonia has a 1 mile evacuation when exposed to fire and ammonium nitrate has 1/2 mile.

  • Paul

    This tragedy in West simply doesn’t have the entertainment value so prized by corporate media. Their calculation was that there was no money to be made in West so they weren’t there. As long as most of the band-width for “news” is owned by five corporations and as long as the FCC is in their pockets and as long as “News” departments are part of the entertainment industry this is what we will have. We don’t have a liberal or conservative press we have press of whores and pimps.

    • dave statter

      There is no doubt that the news organizations are in it to make money and fear sells. The situation in Boston, in their estimation is one that more people can relate to, from a fear factor.

      But forgetting the profit making for a moment, from a pure news judgment, I do understand that the manhunt in Boston was extremely unusual and not something that we’ve really seen before in that way. That is the definition of news and is going to win out either way.

      That said, I would have liked to see more Texas coverage mixed in. I can also assure you that if it wasn’t for Boston the cable networks would be milking the hell out of Texas the way they did Boston. And likely many on here would be complaining about that too.

      BTW, the New York Times did a big artilce on West, Texas today.

  • Brian Haggerty

    I am a Police Officer about one hour away from Boston. I agree that had the Terrorist incident not happened the same time, the poor souls of West Texas would have received more media attention. That is a fact. However I will tell you that people like me notice when other public safety people lose their lives. It is not that their lives and sacrifice meant less than the people in Boston. Each life is valuable and worth the same. There are plenty of us out here sad over the loss of the heroes of West Texas and saying a prayer for them and their families. Their courage and sacrifice was not lost on all of us just because the media was elsewhere.