West, Texas, Explosion Called a Criminal Act

     DALLAS (CN) – The 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 people, injured 200 and destroyed 500 homes in West, Texas, was intentionally set, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Wednesday.
     The ATF and Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office officials said their investigation has ruled out natural and accidental causes.
     ATF Agent in Charge Robert Elder said his agency spent more than $2 million investigating the explosion, with its Houston office conducting more than 400 interviews.
     Elder said the ATF Fire Research Lab determined the fire was intentionally set.
     “It is our highest priority to give victims of this tragedy an accurate explanation of what happened that day,” Elder said.
     Officials did not answer questions about suspects or motive, saying they do not know what the intent was.
     The ATF offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects. People can contact Waco Crime Stoppers at 254-753-4357 or at www.wacocrimestoppers.org.
     The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office announced the findings of its investigation in May 2014, concluding that volunteer firefighters responding to the fire were not adequately trained to fight a fire involving explosive, hazardous materials. Twelve of the 15 deaths were first responders.
     “Firefighters were committed to attacking a fire that was significantly beyond the extinguishment stage, with few resources and a limited water supply,” the report said. “The volume of fire could not be controlled by the limited flow that would have been available from the small hose lines that were deployed.”
     The ATF said Texas does not have minimum training standards for volunteer fire departments.
     Adair Grain, West Fertilizer’s parent company, has faced several lawsuits, from families, insurance companies and the city. They claim the company was negligent in operating the plant and created an unreasonably dangerous condition that led to the fire and explosion. The first lawsuits were to go to trial in October in McLennan County Court, but settlements were reached with families of three victims before trial.

%d bloggers like this: