News and editorial
Eight hours prior to this writing, a small Texas town imploded from a downtown business industry's activities. The farmer's fertilizer factory, with as much as 54,000 pounds of the lung damaging chemical anhydros ammonia in storage, blew up. The sheriff described the devastation resulting from the explosion in downtown West as a "war zone." Buildings, vehicles and people within three to four blocks of the fertilizer plant remain only as rubble. The impact of the explosion was reported by individuals 45 to 60 miles away, registering as a 2.1 if measured as an earthquake impact. The population of the rural area known as West was around 2,800 men, women and children--before the explosion which occurred just after 6:00 pm on Wednesday evening, April 17th, 2013.
By midnight the fire was reported as contained, but the remaining orange glow is far from out. During the flaring of the blaze resulting from the explosion, efforts were being made to evacuate. The risk of a second explosion from a similar tank necessitated that the original triage area, which was set up on the middle school football field be moved further from the fire, as were on the scene reporters. West, located in central Texas, occupies an area about one mile by two miles. It is perhaps difficult for a city dweller to comprehend the differences of living in small town, USA. Living out in the country is different, from daily routines, to cultural and economic differences.
"There's not a hospital any more," reported a City Council member, and wife of a firefighter who had left her in a safely distant location from there home. "He dropped me off, and went back to fight the fire." Though she tried to speak authoritatively, as a council representative in this small,close knit community, her emotional disbelief shivered in her voice, along with a lovely central Texas twang.
At this hour, a half dozen firefighters are unaccounted for. The death toll presently is reported at 60.
What businesses survive when the community can no longer support, or no longer has the support of a hospital? The nursing home has approximately 150 residents,
Businesses, homes, and apartments filled the area before the blast. The intensity of this tragedy grows by the hour. Rain is expected before morning.
Traffic did what traffic does. West, Texas doesn't have a large number of roads going in or coming out. All those vehicles full of ready and anticipatory help were stuck in gridlock traffic.The first call out asked for help from everybody. Like good Texans, they were listening and came from small and large towns many miles away. At one point in time 12 helicopters were shuttling patients to the nearest health facilities. The second call out indicated the had received all the help they could handle.
The town covers an area about three miles by two miles. Cell phones became useless as the fire affected the transmitter towers. Many families live in the same block, and others arriving home for the evening around 6:00 pm had difficulty locating relatives.
Before George Carlin died, he predicted that in the end we would basically blow ourselves and the planet up, to the point that the human population would cease to exist. He had a funny strange sense of humor, but as time goes on...I wonder. Shall we blow the planet up bits at a time, or drag it out over perhaps another generation?
The death, human damage, and propery destuction will likkely kill this town if it doesn't get some outside financial assistance. The original triage unit was set up at the high school football field.
The local Dallas news reports they are checking into OSHA records. It is very dark insides the hearts of the residents of a little town know as West, Texas.