Monday, April 22, 2013
Authorities have identified four more sets of remains of first responders who battled last week's fire and explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant that killed at least 14 people and injured 200, officials cited by The Associated Press said.
Meanwhile, survivors of the blast from the small town gathered on Sunday to remember those who had been lost and to offer thanks that they were still alive. And, as we noted over the weekend, residents in parts of the town worst damaged by the Wednesday explosion at the West Fertilizer Co.
NPR's John Burnett reports on Morning Edition, some people lost everything while others, such as town dentist Larry Sparks, consider themselves lucky:
"It's just a matter of sweeping up the glass and one of our front doors was demolished – it blew it completely in," he tells NPR. "But it's very minimal damage compared to what some of these other folks have suffered."
According to Reuters, the plant was storing 270 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer that should have been reported to the Dept. of Homeland Security but was not. The Texas Dept. of State Health Services was aware of the dangerous chemical but failed to alert DHS, the news agency says.
Michele Scott, principal of the town's elementary school, lost her house in the explosion. She says she's been asked numerous times by people why the local high school and intermediate school were built so close to a potentially dangerous chemical plant.
"We built around the fertilizer plant," she tells NPR. "Looking back at that, it probably wasn't so smart. No one ever dreamed it would be a tragedy like this."