On Friday night, President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration in the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion that killed at least 14 people and injured more than 200 on Wednesday. The president pledged disaster relief aid and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in this small Texas town just north of Waco.
The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed Friday afternoon that 14 people died in the blast, including four firefighters. A search and rescue operation that had been focusing on scouring demolished homes and buildings for more dead and injured has largely wound down as only a few buildings remained to be checked late Friday.
Donald Adair, owner of Adair Grain, Inc., which owns the West fertilizer plant, issued the company’s first statement Friday afternoon. Adair praised first responders and said the hearts of the company go out to those affected. He also confirmed that a plant employee who was working as a volunteer firefighter was among those who died in the explosion.
“The owners and employees of Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Co. are working closely with investigating agencies,” Adair said in the statement. “We pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community.”
Search operations will continue into the weekend, federal investigators said. The wreckage of the plant is being inspected and debris and other evidence collected to try and find the cause of the explosion. Residents will be unable to return to their homes until investigators finish going through the rubble to collect evidence, a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosive spokeswoman said late Friday. She had no timetable for when federal agents’ work would be complete.
If you or a loved one was affected by the tragic event at the West fertilizer plant, contact the Texas industrial accident attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers today to learn what your legal rights are.