An animal control officer spotted this dove perched amid the rubble in West. (Courtesy photo)
WEST (April 20, 2013)--As Waco police animal control officers were searching Friday amid the rubble in West for animals lost or displaced by Wednesday night's massive fertilizer plant explosion, they encountered what one officer said surely was a sign of hope for the people of the small Central Texas community.
About 100 yards from the site of the blast, officers encountered a lone white dove perched on piles of rubble left by the explosion.
"It sat (there) with us walking within feet of it, providing an absolutely fantastic moment in a very surreal scene," Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton recalled.
"I felt its message was too strong not to pass along … you have to believe this is a message to the community of West, Texas," Swanton said.
The explosion Wednesday night killed at least 14 people. nine of them firefighters, and injured about 200 more, some critically.
The force of the blast destroyed 50 homes and an apartment complex, and heavily damaged other structures including a nursing home and three of West's four schools.
Local, state and federal authorities are investigating.