Entries in Fertilizer Plant Explosion (2)


West, Texas EMT Worker Arrested for Possession of Destructive Device

ABC News(WACO, Texas) -- A 31-year old EMT worker who was one of the first at the scene of last month's fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people, was arrested Friday and charged with possession of a destructive device.

Authorities have stated that they will not speculate whether the suspect, Bryce Reed had any connection to the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, deputies from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint in Abbott, Texas on May 7.When the deputies arrived at the residence, they discovered “an assortment of bomb making components.”

An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in an affidavit that officials found a metal pipe, canisters of fuses, a lighter, a digital scale, a plastic spoon, coils of metal and several pounds of chemicals at the residence and determined that they belonged to Reed.

The complaint that sent them to the house alleges that Reed had given the bomb making components to the resident of the home on April 26, a little more than a week after the explosion in West.

The charge of possession of a destructive device is a somewhat broad one, and the device or devices in question could range from a grenade to a bomb or to even something that can be converted to expel a projectile.

Reed was instrumental in the response to the explosion. He had been appointed incident commander, which meant he was basically in charge of a very chaotic scene. Reed pulled people from their homes and attended memorial services of many of those who died in the blast – including some of his friends.

The news of his arrest has been somewhat of a shock to many residents.

"I would hate to think that anybody in West would do that,” said Gina Boudreaux, a resident of West who told ABC News that she doesn't like where this is going.

“Even if they don't live here, personally, the probably have family somewhere in the area that it would have affected,” Boudreaux continued. Her house was heavily damaged in the explosion and she is attempting to make repairs herself because she was uninsured.

According to court documents, Reed admitted to possessing the materials.

He has not been charged with any crimes in connection to the explosion in West.

His next court appearance will be on Wednesday. Reed faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted.

The charges against Reed came shortly ahead of an announcement from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which said Friday morning that it would use a criminal investigation to ensure that the explosion had been "looked at from every angle," according to a statement from TDP director Steven McCraw.

"This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered," McCraw said, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA.

McCraw said that the department would not answer any questions or provide any other details about the investigation at this time.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Days After Fertilizer Plant Explosion, Some Residents Return Home

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WEST, Texas) -- After small fires were contained at the site of the massive West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, a town official said on Saturday that some residents are being allowed to return to their homes.

"Everything is safe. Any rumors you've heard today, forget about it," West City Council member Steve Vanek said at a news conference Saturday. "Everything is safe, safe and safe."

While the news was welcome for some of West's displaced residents, those returning are under strict orders to stay in their homes and will also have to adhere to an evening curfew.

Evacuated residents have been waiting to return to assess the condition of their homes and belongings after they were forced to flee at a moment's notice after a blast on Wednesday at West Fertilizer Co. killed at least 14 people, injured 200 more and carved a widespread path of destruction.

Firefighters responded at the plant on Wednesday at 7:29 p.m., and after realizing the severity of the situation, began evacuating people in the vicinity.

Approximately 20 minutes later, an explosion tore through a four-to-five block radius, leveling roughly 80 homes and a middle school and trapping 133 residents of a nursing home in rubble. The blast was so powerful, residents said it shook the ground and there were reports of people hearing it several miles away.

"At some buildings, walls were ripped off, roofs were peeled back," Waco Police Department Sgt. William Swanton said.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation

Donald Adair, the owner of West Fertilizer Co. and a lifelong resident of the town, said Friday his heart was "broken with grief."

"This tragedy will continue to hurt deeply for generations to come," Adair said in a statement.

"My family and I can't express enough our deep appreciation for the loving service and selfless sacrifice from within and around our community responding to the urgent needs of those affected," he said.

Adair vowed his company would "pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community."

As the town works to rebuild after the tragedy, Vanek said a large memorial service is being planned to honor the victims, many of whom were first responders.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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