A fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas in August 2013 caused 260 injuries, killed 15 people, and damaged or destroyed over 150 buildings. In the aftermath of this tragedy, residents of West will be looking for answers from the owners of the West Fertilizer plant and Adair Grain Inc.
What You Can Do & How a Lawsuit Can Help
Our law firm has already been contacted by residents of West, Texas and we are now currently representing a number of victims in the horrible tragedy. If you or somebody you know was harmed by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation.
We are currently accepting potential lawsuits involving personal injury claims, hearing loss, property damage, economic losses, recovery costs, and more. Please use the form below to contact our Accident & Personal Injury Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Investigators Say “Criminal Act” Caused Explosion
May 13, 2016 — Federal investigators have concluded that the fertilizer plant in West, Texas was a “criminal act” caused by a fire that was deliberately set. They have offered a $50,000 reward for help finding the person. Click here to read more.
UPDATE: Victims of Fertilizer Plant Explosion Reach Settlement
October 13, 2015 — Two years after a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, the families of three men who died have reached an undisclosed settlement. Click here to read more.
May 9, 2013 — Ammonium nitrate has been definitively named as the cause of the explosion at West Fertilizer Company — not anhydrous ammonia, as was previously reported. Click here to read more.
May 6, 2013 — West Fertilizer Company has a $1 million insurance policy, which is significantly less than the estimated damage in West, Texas. If the company is found liable for the explosion, lawyers expect a judge to divide the insurance money among plaintiffs who file lawsuits. Click here to read more.
May 3, 2013 — Journalists have uncovered evidence that there were 11 thefts and 5 leaks at the West Fertilizer plant in the last 12 years. Despite the ongoing security issues, the company never had a security guard, perimeter fence, or alarms. Although there is no evidence that theft caused the explosion, it raises concern about the security of dangerous chemicals in the United States. Click here to read more.
May 2, 2013 — Investigators are piecing together clues to determine the source of the explosion. They have ruled out anhydrous ammonia, and now believe ammonium nitrate caused the explosion. Click here to read more.
May 1, 2013 — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in Texas will be reviewing concerns about regulations and inspections regarding the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. Click here to read more.
April 30, 2013 — Residents of West, Texas whose homes were closest to the explosion have been allowed into Zone 3 to see their home and recovery property. Click here to read more.
April 29, 2013 — Financial donations are needed for relief aid in West, Texas. Click here to read more.
April 26, 2013 — Reuters reports that 270 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored at the West Fertilizer plant, which was never reported to the Department of Homeland Security. Click here to read more.
April 25, 2013 — Hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid and hundreds of boxes of relief supplies have been donated to victims of the explosion in West. Many organizations have opened their doors to provide shelter and assistance for victims. Click here to read more.
April 24, 2013 — Two lawsuits have been filed against West Fertilizer Company and Adair Grain for the explosion last week. The first lawsuit was filed by a single mother who lived in the apartment building next to the plant. The other lawsuit was filed by an insurance company that insures homes, businesses, churches, and other buildings in West. Click here to read more.
April 23, 2013 — Locals and lawmakers talk safety in aftermath of fertilizer plant explosion. Click here to read more.
April 22, 2013 — Residents of West band together as donations pour into the town. Click here to read more.
April 19, 2013 — Officials at West Fertilizer Company submitted risk management plan with the government that said there was no risk of a fire or an explosion at the plant. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined the company for failing to have an adequate risk management plant. Click here to read more.
West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion
The town of West, Texas is a small farming community of about 2,800 residents and a strong Czech heritage. The town is located in north-central Texas, about 20 miles north of Waco and 80 miles south of Dallas.
On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, emergency teams responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer plant at 7:29 p.m. While firefighters attempted to extinguish the blaze, police and paramedics began evacuating residents within a one-mile radius of the fertilizer plant.
Just before 8 p.m., a second explosion decimated a five-block radius around the plant. The blast rocked the ground with a magnitude 2.1 earthquake that could be felt up to 45 miles away. Between 50 and 80 homes were damaged or destroyed, a middle school was reduced to rubble, walls were ripped off a 50-unit apartment building, and a nursing home was heavily damaged.
Explosion Causes 15 Deaths, Hundreds of Injuries
In the aftermath of the explosion, as many as 15 people perished and more than 200 others were injured. The majority of those who died were volunteer firefighters, paramedics, and first-responders who were fighting the initial blaze and evacuating residents before the explosion occurred. Although 133 people were evacuated from a nursing home, rescue teams reported finding several individuals who were trapped in their rooms. Many other injured people were living nearby.
Emergency response teams set up triage on the football field. More than 100 others were sent to Hillcrest Baptist Hospital in Waco. Providence Hospital in Waco said they had treated more than 60 patients. At least 40 people were reported in “critical condition.”
Blast-related injuries have been reported to include:
- Head trauma
- Broken bones (orthopedic injuries)
- Eye irritation and injuries
- Hearing loss
- And more
Cause of the Explosion Under Investigation
It is unknown what started the initial fire at the West Fertilizer plant. Once the fire began, it likely ignited tanks of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient in synthetic fertilizer that can explode under high temperatures. Ammonium nitrate is the explosive fuel used in fertilizer bombs.
Police are treating the area as a crime scene until proven otherwise, although there is no indication that the explosion was intentional. Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said that the initial blaze may have involved a railroad tanker carrying anhydrous ammonia (dry ammonia).
There is no indication that it was anything but an industrial accident, but the site is still too hot to investigate. Concerns about toxic fumes and a second explosion have prevented firefighters from getting close enough to extinguish the blaze.
The U.S. Chemical Safety board said they are deploying “a large investigation team” to investigate the cause of the explosion. The board’s regional director was scheduled to arrive Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was also sending a response team. Specialists will include fire investigators, explosives experts, chemists, and canine units. Other response teams include FEMA, state emergency management teams, search and rescue, and mobile medical units.
Toxic Fumes from Burning Ammonium
The building that caught on fire is called the Dry Barn and it contains ammonium nitrate. Next to the building are tanks filled with highly-pressurized anhydrous ammonium (dry ammonium that reacts with water). Breathing ammonium can cause:
- Burns: Skin, mucous membranes inside the nose and mouth, throat, and lungs.
- Irritation: The chemical has a sharp odor that causes severe irritation to the eyes, throat, mouth and lungs.
- Blindness: Or permanent eye damage
- Lung damage: This can cause choking, burning, and gasping, and a pink froth at the mouth.
Officials said that the town was not threatened by toxic chemical fumes, although the plant has been burning for several hours after the explosion. Because ammonia is very chemically reactive, it may have completely burned up in the explosion.
Do I have a West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawsuit?
If you or somebody you know was harmed by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. We are currently accepting potential lawsuits involving personal injury claims, hearing loss, property damage, economic losses, recovery costs, and more. Please use the form below to contact our Accident & Personal Injury Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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