Small Town of West Working to Recover from Devastating Blast - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Small Town of West Working to Recover from Devastating Blast

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Emergency responders are still picking up the pieces after a devastating explosion almost leveled the town of West, Texas, Wednesday evening.

Officials are not sure how many are dead or missing. At this point, they estimate five to 15 may be dead and over 150 are injured.

On Thursday, smoke was still rising from the rubble of West Fertilizer and nearby homes and businesses as the town comes to grips with the enormity of what happened Wednesday night.

It began with a massive fire at the fertilizer plant, and then 24 minutes later, as
firefighters responded to the blaze, an explosion rocked the plant and the small town of 2,800, sending shock waves that were felt 45 miles away.

The plant was leveled and homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged for blocks in every direction. Texas Governor Rick Perry called it a nightmare scenario.

"This tragedy has most likely hit every family, touched everyone in that town," Perry said.

The thunderous blast shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake.

"Homes have been destroyed," said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department. "There are homes flattened. Part of that community is gone."

At the nursing home, windows blew out and the ceiling collapsed on patients.

"A lot of them were panicked," nursing home worker Lola Millhollin said. "A lot of them were. A lot of them were in shock, but we did the best we could with what we had and got them out safely."

Authorities said more than 160 people have been treated at area hospitals. Patients suffered broken bones, cuts and minor burns. At least five people are in intensive care.

While emotions are running high in the tight-knit community, there's also overwhelming support, with massive donations coming in from across Texas to help the victims.

KCEN, Kiii-TV's sister station in Waco, has been covering the explosion and recovery efforts in West non-stop since Wednesday night. For the latest details, click here.