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Aug 27/13

The Fallen Volunteer Firefighters in West Posted by: Dan | 0 Comments

Remember the tragic story of the fire at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas? Many of those who rushed to the scene were volunteer firefighters.

As Texas Monthly puts it, “As noncareer firefighters, the 30 members of the West Volunteer Fire Department expected to have their work schedules upended, their dinners interrupted, and maybe for a little smoke to get in their eyes. What they didn’t expect was to face the greatest disaster their town had ever seen — and to lose some of their own.”

The magazine tells the compelling story of that day from the perspective of the volunteer firemen on the scene.

The explosion registered 2.1 on the Richter scale. Occurring in two blasts, a millisecond apart, it provided the detonating power of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of TNT. The fire had ignited the ammonium nitrate. As chunks of concrete, burning wood, and shredded panels of metal flew a half mile in every direction, like mutated bullets, a tumultuous shock punched through every house in the area. A 600-pound mass of concrete soared 450 yards and crashed through the roof of the West Rest Haven nursing home. Twisted, ripped sheets of metal landed on lawns, streets, and fields. Burning fragments caught houses on fire. All that was left of the plant was a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

It’s nine pages long but well worth the read.


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