Search Continues in West
Strong winds could pose new challenges in the recovery efforts in West, Texas, where an explosion on April 17 at a fertilizer plant claimed as many as 15 lives. As a cold front drifted into Texas from the north, AccuWeather predicted storms and southward winds between 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.
"Thunderstorms moving through the area may bring beneficial moisture to the blaze," the national forecasting center reports. "However, winds behind the front will continue to be problematic for firefighters."
With overnight lows predicted to be just above freezing, the storm system could cause problems for those left homeless.
In a media briefing, Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton told reporters that the heavy rains that soaked the area Thursday morning helped diminish any potential contaminants in the air and, thus far, had not affected search and rescue efforts.
But with overnight lows predicted to be just above freezing, the storm system could cause problems for those left homeless.
Roughly 20 miles from Waco, the small town of West — known to many Texans for its Czech bakeries — awoke to a shocking scene of destruction after the devastating blast at West Fertilizer Co. leveled four nearby blocks. Up to 75 homes, a large apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home suffered major damage.
Although official causality information has yet to be confirmed, early reports indicate as many as 15 deaths and more than 160 injuries. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating the still-smoldering site, which authorities have declared a crime scene.
"[Rescue workers] have not gotten to the point of no return where they don't think that there's anybody still alive," a hopeful Swanton said. In an earlier press conference, he noted that police received several reports of looting.
According to the Associated Press, the fertilizer plant was cited by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2006 for failing to obtain or qualify for a permit.