Sunday, April 21, 2013

ATF, Firemen treat West blast site as 'crime scene'

Comb fertilizer plant for arson

West – Arson investigators and crime scene technicians labored into the night under intense lights as state police treated the site of an explosion that leveled the West Fertilizer Co. as a crime scene.

State troopers and investigators have set up inner and outer perimeters covering dozens of square blocks around the site of the blast, which demolished the West Fertilizer Co. and leveled 80 homes, killing 15 persons – five of them firemen.

When asked questions about where the investigators' headquarters are, the areas that have been opened to the public, police officers, including State Game Wardens, responded by saying only, “I don't know.”

One officer, who chose not to identify himself, said, “They're treating it like a crime scene...”

Earlier, some parts of the surrounding area were opened to residents, who were allowed to re-occupy their property under the limited terms of a 7 pm to 7 am curfew.

Insurance investigators from major carriers set up temporary claims and investigative offices in RV's parked along the railroad tracks that split the downtown area and run just to the east of the industrial site where the explosion occurred.

Accident and hazardous materials clean-up specialists set up shop, as well as mobile crane operators and railroad repair crews, who will begin the task of rebuilding the railroad right of way.

The explosion, which left the rails bent like spaghetti, leveled and burned numerous buildings, and inured as many as two hundred residents.

Environmental regulators with the State of Texas as well as EPA officials noted in reports that the operators of the plant did not have the proper fire sprinkler systems in place in a room where as much as 270 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was stored, and a tank of anhydrous ammonia exploded with the force of a small earthquake.

1 comment:

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