Explosion | KERA News


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State and federal officials investigating the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company say the cause is still “undetermined”.

But at an afternoon press conference they said they had ruled out a number of causes including  a fire at the plant, spontaneous ignition and one of two electrical systems . 

ATF Special Agent Robert Champion identified three other potential causes still being investigated: a 120 volt electrical system; a golf cart ; or an intentionally set fire.

Authorities say this is still considered a criminal investigation

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4:46: Chris Connealy , Texas State Fire Marshal, says after one of the most intense explosion investigations ever undertaken by the ATF, the cause of the fire and explosion in West on April 17,  is officially undetermined, and the investigation continues. 

Officials are still looking at possible causes that could have started the fire and  the explosion, including the 120 volt plant, a nearby golf cart, and the possibility the blast might have been caused intentionally. The investigation is being treated as a criminal investigation, and again, it is ongoing. 

Joe Berti

McLennan County officials are providing additional details about the arrest of a volunteer EMS worker from West who has been  charged with possessing a destructive device.

Heidi White, an employee at the McLennan County Jail, says

thirty-one year old Bryce Reed was arrested by federal ATF officers Thursday following a complaint from the U.S. Marshals Service.

Reed was held at the county jail until this morning then released to ATF.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today directed the Texas Rangers to join McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara in launching a criminal investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion that occurred in West, Texas, on April 17. Media are reporting a paramedic has been arrested on a charge of possessing a destructive device but officials aren't commenting on whether the arrest is related to the West explosion.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Update, Saturday, 11:15 a.m.: Thinking about taking a carload or truckload of supplies to help out the people of West? Don't. The little town is overwhelmed with donations of goods and clothing. Folks sorting through all the donations tell KERA's BJ Austin they've run out of room. The Dallas Morning News reports that cash is the most important thing needed right now.  There are plenty of other ways you can help, too. Here are a few:

Lowell Brown / Waco Tribune

The school board president of West Independent School District  says about half the district’s 1,463 students will return to school Monday, but at a different school, in a different district. That’s because three of West ISD’s four schools suffered damage from Wednesday’s explosion. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

During a tour of West today, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn confirmed that ammonium nitrate was found at the site of the explosion.  It’s a fertilizer component also used to make bombs.

The information comes as federal and state agencies arrive in West to investigate the cause of the tragedy.

  Floyd Wolf, like many of his neighbors, was surprised to learn the explosion that tore apart their community may have come from West Fertilizer.  After all, the company had been there for decades, sitting near their school and homes.


The marathon bombing in Boston and the explosion in the town of West, Texas may seem completely unrelated. But the injuries they cause are remarkably similar. 

The FAQ On Fertilizer

Apr 18, 2013

The Washington Post's WonkBlog has a standout look at the fertilizer business. One choice tidbit: The U.S. imports far more fertilizer ($13 billion worth) than it exports ($4.5 billion). And the biggest suppliers? Canada, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Update, 12:15 a.m.: "An unbelievable tragedy" -- that's how D.L. Wilson of the Department of Public Safety described Wednesday night's fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Speaking to the media just after midnight, he added that he'd toured the blast zone, and it looked "just like Iraq, just like the Murrah building in Oklahoma City," which was bombed 18 years ago this week.

Wilson said more than 100 were injured, and he confirmed that people have died, though he gave no number.

The NPR host was running the Boston Marathon with William Greer, a blind marathoner from Austin. Peter writes: "He ran the bravest and toughest mile of his life, not even able to see clearly what he was doing, just because he wanted to be able to say he did it, and by doing so, he crossed the line alive."

Melissa Bishop

Like many runners around the country today, North Texas residents are showing their support and honoring the victims of yesterday's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, runners in groups like the Dallas Running Club are calling on their cohorts to wear one of their race t-shirts today.


Update, 9:00 p.m.: Hear Mike Bordelon talk about his experience at the Boston Marathon.

Update, 6:10 p.m.: Among the thousands of runners shaken by Monday’s tragedy were a number of Texans, including Mike Bordelon, an experienced marathoner who recently moved from Dallas to suburban Houston. He crossed the finish line an hour before the two explosions.

Bordelon and his wife were in their room at the Hilton Back Bay, watching runners stream by, when they heard the first blast.

“It was wild because all the runners started running away, up the other street,” he told KERA’s Stella Chavez, “and we were like what is going on?”

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The FBI and the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force are now in charge of the investigation of a possible bombing attempt in Plano.