On April 17 of 2013, a
deadly fertilizer plant explosion at West Fertilizer Co., just north of Waco, TX, wiped out around 500 apartments, homes, businesses,
nursing homes, and schools, killing 15 and injuring hundreds of others.
The accident resulted in more than
$100 million in damages to surrounding homes and businesses. The tight-knit farming community
of only 2,800 people was rocked by the devastation that this
unforeseen accident caused. The explosion was equivalent to a magnitude 2.1 earthquake and
left a 93 foot wide crater at the site of the fertilizer plant. All surrounding
buildings were severely damaged.
Accidental & Natural Causes Ruled Out
Three years later, just as the community was beginning to heal, the town
was again devastated by new information in the case—the deadly explosion
was likely caused after someone intentionally set fire to the plant, where
dangerous chemicals such as
ammonium nitrate were stored.
Officials have spent over $2 million in the investigation and painstakingly
interviewed over 400 individuals. Just recently, ATF Special Agent Robert
Elder disclosed to the public that the explosion was determined to be
a criminal act after natural and accidental causes had been ruled out.
In addition, he reported that investigators are now offering a $50,000
reward for anyone who might have information about the person or people
responsible for this explosion. While there is no evidence that yet discloses
the motive for such an act, there is hope that those responsible will
be brought to justice and that the community can fully heal from this
Ongoing Litigation After Explosion
Earlier this year, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
determined that the blast was “one of the most destructive incidents
ever investigated” by the board. Continued litigation has resulted
in several confidential settlements with the fertilizer company after numerous
lawsuits were brought against them. There are still more lawsuits ongoing at the moment.