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Texas Fertilizer Plant Blast UPDATE

April 18, 2013 –Waco, TX Local 478 and Killeen, TX Local 2505 HazMat teams and other emergency service personnel are responding to the scene of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, which has killed as many as 15 people, including several fire fighters, according to reports.

IAFF 11th District Vice President Sandy McGhee is in contact with Waco Local 478, the IAFF affiliate closest to the blast. He says, “Local 478 President Steve Tull reports that none of our members has been hurt as a result of the explosion, although their homes may be damaged.”

Sadly, Dallas Local 58 Captain Kenny Harris, who lives in West, was killed while responding to the fertilizer plant as a good Samaritan. Harris was a 31-year IAFF member and an exemplary fire fighter and leader. He was a 52-year-old married father of three grown sons.

Hazmat teams have been dispatched and fire fighters are assessing conditions and addressing safety concerns.

“Our members are doing what they do best, and are on scene making calm out of chaos by assisting their neighboring community,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is another situation where this country is counting on our first responders to be there, and our members never disappoint – they respond no matter the circumstances.”

“The severity of the damage remains unclear,” says Texas State Association of Fire Fighters President Guy Turner. “We won’t have a clear picture until the entire scene has been swept by emergency personnel.”

The explosion occurred around 8:00 p.m. on April 17, leveling a four-block area around the West Fertilizer Company. U.S. intelligence officials say that, so far, there is no indication that this was a terrorist event. However, nothing will be ruled out until the investigation is complete.

Dozens of homes are damaged or destroyed, some belonging to IAFF members.


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