Texas Plant Had No Sprinklers, Fire Walls

10 first responders believed to be among the dead: mayor

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 19, 2013 7:15 AM CDT | Updated Apr 19, 2013 8:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Authorities are coming to grips with the extent of the devastation following a Wednesday night explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. About 200 people were injured and 12 bodies have been recovered so far, the AP reports. That's far fewer than the nearly 40 victims Mayor Tommy Muska had earlier estimated, the Dallas Morning News notes, but the Waco Tribune-Herald says a few more dead are expected. Among the victims are believed to be at least 10 first responders, the mayor tells USA Today, including firefighters and EMS workers who were battling a fire at the plant when the explosion occurred.

Meanwhile, some 50 to 75 buildings were ruined or suffered severe damage. As to what caused the explosion, it could be six months before we know for sure, the Wall Street Journal notes—though nothing has suggested it wasn't simply an accident. The company didn't have sprinklers, blast walls, or fire walls installed because it wasn't dealing with flammable materials, it said in a 2011 federal filing, per the AP. It was fined $10,000 for safety violations last year, though the sum was lowered to $5,250.

Mourners attend a service at St. Mary's Church of the Assumption Thursday, April 18, 2013, a day after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.
Mourners attend a service at St. Mary's Church of the Assumption Thursday, April 18, 2013, a day after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
This Thursday, April 18, 2013 aerial photo shows the remains of a nursing home, left, apartment complex, center, and fertilizer plant, right, destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas.
This Thursday, April 18, 2013 aerial photo shows the remains of a nursing home, left, apartment complex, center, and fertilizer plant, right, destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Law enforcement and rescue personnel search the damage to an apartment complex from the explosion of the West Fertilizer plant on Thursday, April 18, 2013, in West, Texas.
Law enforcement and rescue personnel search the damage to an apartment complex from the explosion of the West Fertilizer plant on Thursday, April 18, 2013, in West, Texas.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool)
This aerial photo shows the remains of an emergency responders' vehicle, top right, and a fertilizer plant destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013.
This aerial photo shows the remains of an emergency responders' vehicle, top right, and a fertilizer plant destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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