West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion search and rescue comes to close

WEST, Texas (AP) -- Search and rescue operations have been completed in the small town where a fertilizer plant explosion killed 14 people and injured about 200 others.

Texas Task Force 1 is pulling its heavy equipment and members out of West, Texas on Saturday after finishing a search and rescue of a swath of the town decimated by the Wednesday night explosion.

The blast Wednesday night destroyed a school, nursing home and houses in a four-block area.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokeswoman Franceska Perot says it's a "possibility" that some families barricaded from their homes will be allowed into their damaged neighborhoods Saturday.

Local officials said early Saturday they were waiting on clearance from ATF to update residents.

Investigators say the plant rarely had safety inspections. It had no sprinklers, firewalls or deluge systems, which is not unusual.

Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of different agencies. Each has a specific concern, and don't have to coordinate

The plants, including 1,150 in Texas, are part of a regulatory system that focuses on large installations, though many of these smaller facilities contain enough agricultural chemicals to fuel a major explosion.

The plant's owner has not returned calls seeking comment.
 

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