Damage From West Explosion Will Likely Top $100 Million

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WEST (April 24, 2013)—The Insurance Council of Texas, an insurance industry trade group, said Wednesday losses from the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West will likely exceed $100 million.

The crater left by the explosion. (From pool video)

Insurance Council of Texas spokesman Mark Hanna said Wednesday that insured losses after the explosion in West included dozens of damaged homes, businesses and cars as well as the costs of resettling displaced residents.

Last week's explosion at West Fertilizer Co. left a crater 90 feet wide and totaled nearby homes and buildings, leaving at least 14 dead and about 200 injured.

The homes closest to the plant have been kept off-limits as officials investigate the blast.

Hanna says he believes as many as 140 homes were destroyed, based on conversations with numerous insurance agents and adjusters.

The explosion on April 17 at West Fertilizer Co. left a crater that’s 10 feet deep and 93 feet across, Assistant Texas Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said during a news conference Tuesday.

Investigators are trying to find the first heat source and where the fire started, Kistner said.

A rail car on the property loaded with ammonium nitrate wasn’t the cause of the fire, Kistner said, but rather a “victim” of the fire.

Investigators haven’t determined the quantities of chemicals stored at the plant at the time of the fire, he said.

More than 600 residents showed up to a meeting Tuesday night where the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem answered questions.

At the meeting residents were told it may be up to three weeks until water service is restored to parts of town.

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West Mayor Pro-Tem said work continued Tuesday to restore utilities and said a boil order remains in effect for the entire community.

About 350 homes were without water and electrical and natural gas service was limited in areas affected by the explosion.

He said officials will soon be able to allow residents of the most heavily damaged area of the city to return to their homes.

City crews are clearing debris from roadways, he said.