Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in his state "a truly nightmare scenario."
Authorities have said as many as 15 people are feared dead and more than 160 others were injured in the explosion that leveled homes and businesses in the farming community of West, Texas.
Perry emphasized during a Thursday morning news conference that much of the information about victims remains "very preliminary." He says President Barack Obama has offered a quick turnaround of declaring McLennan County an emergency disaster that is eligible for federal aid.
Perry says at least 75 homes were damaged in the blast. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says the explosion Wednesday night knocked people "all over the town" back 10 feet, including some through windows.
"We are blessed in Texas to have the best emergency response teams in the nation, and they were certainly at their best last night, quickly and efficiently taking control of the situation, tending to the wounded and helping keep a bad situation from getting worse," Perry said. "Anyone who grew up in a small town understands that this tragedy will touch every family in West and the surrounding communities in some way. I urge all Texans and Americans to join me in keeping the people of West and our first responders in your prayers as this situation continues to unfold."
Activated state resources include:
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Helping secure the area for law enforcement personnel to conduct business and maintain public safety.
- Texas Task Force 1 & 2 (TTF1 and TTF2): TTF1 urban search and rescue team, including damage assessment personnel for collapse structure assessment, and a search and rescue K-9 Team. TTF2 search and rescue task force has also been deployed.
- Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): Ambulance buses, two medical incident support team members and mental health and other resources have been deployed. The DSHS State Medical Operations Center has also been activated.
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): Providing air monitoring and technical assistance.
- Texas Military Forces (TXMF): The 6th Civil Support Team, with approximately 21 personnel, has been deployed to support of first responders. Additional resources and personnel from the Texas National Guard Homeland Response Force (HRF) remain on alert and ready to assist if needed.
- Communications Coordination Group (CCG): Activated to provide additional emergency communication resources and/or support as needed.
- Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT): Two 300-gallon fuel trailers from the TxDOT Bryan District have been sent to West, along with four personnel and four trucks to assist with mobile fueling; 18 personnel and nine trucks are closing city streets to block off the affected area. Other available sites for refueling are the TxDOT Waco District Office and TxDOT Hill County Area Office in Hillsboro.
- Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC): Providing support personnel.
- Texas Railroad Commission: Monitoring pipelines in the affected area.
- Texas Education Agency: Working with the local school district to coordinate any immediate needs. Schools in West are closed for the remainder of the week.
- Texas Forest Service: Incident Management Team assisting the Texas Division of Emergency Management with planning and logistics.
- Texas Department of Insurance: State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting on-site. Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is also actively assisting individuals affected by this tragedy. Two members of TDI’s Consumer Protection Division will be on site to assist individuals as soon as it is safe to do so.