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West Explosion Death Toll Stands At 14; Most Were First Responders

The death toll from the powerful fertilizer plant explosion in West remains at 14, the Department of Public Safety said Saturday, and most were first responders.

(Photo by Rachel Cox)

WEST (April 20, 2013)—No more bodies have been found in the rubble left by the massive fertilizer plant explosion Wednesday night in West and the death toll stands at 14, Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said Saturday.

Most of the 14 were first responders.

Only one fallen firefighter has been identified publicly, Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Kenny Harris, 52, who was a married father of three grown sons who lived in West and was lending a hand to volunteer firefighters at West Fertilizer Co.

But the names of the other fallen firefighters spread quickly through the town of 2,700 and have been confirmed through community sources.

Morris Bridges, West Volunteer Fire Department
Perry Calvin, Navarro Mills Volunteer Fire Department
Jerry Chapman, Abbott Volunteer Fire Department
Cody Dragoo, West Volunteer Fire Department
Kenny Harris, Dallas Fire-Rescue.
Jimmy Matus, West business owner.
Joey Pustejovsky, West city secretary, West Volunteer Fire Department
Cyrus Reed, Abbott Volunteer Fire Department
Doug Snokhous, West Volunteer Fire Department
Robert Snokhous, West Volunteer Fire Department
Buck Uptmor, West Volunteer Fire Department

A Facebook Page has been created to honor the fallen firefighters.

(Fallen Firefighters Facebook Page)

About 60 people were unaccounted for after the explosion, but McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said late Friday afternoon that most if not all of them have or will be located.

Reyes declined Saturday to respond directly to questions about whether everyone has been found.

Earlier Friday Reyes confirmed that 12 bodies were recovered from the area around the West Fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West.

Reyes said all of the remains were taken to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences, in Dallas, for positive identification.

Most of the injured victims were treated and then released, but some remain hospitalized Friday.

About 200 people were injured in the explosion and resulting fires, but most were treated and later released.

Three patients, two of whom were in critical condition, remained at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple and two children, one of whom was in critical condition are at McLane Children’s Hospital.

Seventeen patients remained at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, five of whom were in intensive care.

Others were taken to Providence Health Center in Waco, where 10 remained Friday, and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where two remained.

Reyes said three fire trucks and one ambulance were destroyed in the blast, which also destroyed 50 homes, the 50-unit apartment building and heavily damaged West Intermediate School.

(West: More Headlines And Information)

(West: How You Can Help Displaced Students)

(City Of West Website)

Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded just before 8 p.m. Wednesday after the explosion, which was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at West Fertilizer at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35.

The blast was felt throughout the city and as far away as Hillsboro, Whitney and Blum.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the area looked like a war zone after the blast, which had a magnitude of 2.1, the U.S. Geological Survey said.


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