April 21, 2013 – Tragedy In Texas As Explosion at Fertilizer Plant Kills at Least 14: Three-tenths of a mile from this town’s own ground zero, barely more than 24 hours after an explosion at a fertilizer plant tore through people’s houses and hearts, dozens of firefighters and emergency responders stood at aTheir hands raised to their brows in salute, they faced one another in two lines in the parking lot of a school, forming two walls of blue as the body of a fellow firefighter was escorted between them in the night. A bagpiper blew “Amazing Grace” as the remains, draped in an American flag, were placed in a vehicle. Pictured above, Eddie Hykel, left, a firefighter from West, Tex., who was injured in the fertilizer plant explosion, watched on Saturday as colleagues from nearby towns raised a flag as a memorial to those who died.
It was a ritual they performed over and over — once for every person discovered in the wreckage who had been affiliated with a fire department. The scale of the disaster could be measured by the length of the ceremony; the firefighters and responders stood in the cold for about two hours, forming an honor guard 12 times for 12 bodies.
“We’re family,” said Joe Ondrasek, 46, a fire official from Brazos County who stood in salute that night and had traveled here to represent the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. “It’s like losing your family. It’s like six members of your family got killed in a car wreck. That’s what it is, at that level.”
Three days after the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant erupted in an explosion that destroyed part of this town north of Waco, the search of dozens of buildings around the plant was complete on Saturday, but the magnitude of the blast’s toll had barely started to settle in. Officials said at least 14 people were killed in the explosion, which occurred shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday after a fire broke out at the plant for reasons that are still unclear and that remain under investigation by local, state and federal authorities. Click on the link below for the complete story.
The Master of Disaster