The following article is taken from the Houston Chronicle regarding the devastation experienced from the massive explosion in the city of West between Waco and Hillsboro, Texas. Click here to read the article and view additional pictures from the aftermath of this tragedy.
Investigators confirm ammonium nitrate led to West blast
But cause of fire preceding explosion still unknown
By Dug Begley | May 6, 2013 | Updated: May 6, 2013 8:38pm
A stockpile of ammonium nitrate at a fertilizer plant in West was the source of a deadly April 17 explosion, investigators said Monday.
The cause of the fire that preceded the explosion, however, remains undetermined.
Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Texas fire marshal’s office, confirmed that ammonium nitrate was stored in bins at the blast point, in a building that also included an office.
“We know (the fire) started in that building,” Moreno said, “but not in the bin.” The building was built in the 1960s, she said, although exact details of its construction were unavailable.
The explosion killed 14 people, mostly firefighters and others who rushed to contain the fire and evacuate nearby residents. Officials have focused on a 93-foot-wide crater at the site of the explosion. The fire also broke out in that vicinity.
Fire alone cannot cause ammonium nitrate, a chemical commonly used to make fertilizer, to explode. The investigation continues into other factors, such as intense pressure or extreme heat, that may have contributed.