CSB deploys to a massive explosion and fire at fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas.

Published:  18 April, 2013

A large investigation team from the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of a massive fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant located in West, Texas, north of Waco.

Local emergency officials have told the CSB of a large number of injuries and destroyed buildings in the town.

The investigative team will be led CSB Western Regional Office Director Don Holmstrom and is scheduled to arrive in Texas Thursday afternoon.

The blast, apparently preceded by a fire at the plant, was reported at about 8 p.m  CDT on Wednesday in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 80 miles south of Dallas and 20 miles north of Waco.

The explosion ripped through the Texas fertilizer plant, injuring more than 100 people, levelling dozens of homes and damaging other buildings including a school and nursing home.

An undetermined number of people have been killed and the death toll is expected to rise as search teams comb through the rubble of the demolished plant and surrounding homes.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told Reuters that five or six volunteer firefighters who were among the first on the scene in the blast zone were unaccounted for. CNN reported that at least three people had been killed.

Texas Public Safety Department spokesman DL Wilson told a news conference that 50 to 75 homes were damaged by the explosion and a fire that followed, and that a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to ‘a skeleton standing up.’

Wilson said 133 people had been evacuated from the badly damaged nursing home, but it was not immediately clear how many of them were hurt. He estimated that overall more than 100 people had been injured in the disaster.

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