TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Investigators need more time at Texas blast site

AP
Mangled debris litters the site of West Fertilizer' plant on Thursday, April 18, 2013, a day after an explosion leveled the West, Texas, facility.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 8:27 p.m.
 

WEST, Texas — Nearly a month into their review of the deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer plant, investigators are hoping to draw a picture from the air of how the plant looked before the explosion and compare it to the 93-foot-wide crater that's there now.

They'll paint and mark off lines for the walls of each building at West Fertilizer, where an April 17 explosion killed at least 14 people. Then, they'll fly overhead to compare the lines to the crater.

That process will occur as investigators try to reconstruct whatever they can of the plant in hopes of nailing down how ammonium nitrate detonated a deadly blast in the plant.

Their work has taken longer than expected, causing some frustration as people continue to wait for answers. After saying they might finish this week, officials said they'll need more time.

State and federal workers have sorted through much of the debris with rakes, shovels and by hand. The material they considered to be possible evidence was stacked atop blue tarps — “boneyards” — scattered over the site. The rest of the debris was trucked away.

A site that was covered in twisted metal and planks of wood last week has been cleared in most parts.

They had slightly expanded the wall of one building rebuilt through pieces of debris and were planning to reposition power lines in their original locations on the site.

“We're not talking about a 100 percent reconstruction. You can't do that, especially at this site. That's not going to happen,” said Brian Hoback, a national response team supervisor for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “But what you try to do is you try to reconstruct those things that are important to you in terms of origin and cause.”

While the fire marshal's office said this week that stores of ammonium nitrate exploded, officials said they still didn't know what caused it to detonate or what caused the fire beforehand.

Assistant state fire marshal Kelly Kistner laid out four possible factors, any one of which could have caused the ammonium nitrate to explode: heat, possibly from the fire; a physical shock to the chemical; an issue with how it was contained or stored; and contamination.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. U.S. to assign 3,000 from U.S. military to fight Ebola
  2. Florida socialite’s lawsuit vs. feds in Petraeus scandal OK’d to proceed
  3. Meteor lights up night sky above eastern U.S.
  4. Rare respiratory illness reported in at least 10 states
  5. Medal of Honor awarded to veterans of Vietnam War
  6. House preps resolution to aid Syrian rebels, combat ISIS
  7. Black lung disease on rise in Appalachia
  8. House preps to aid rebels
  9. Man’s confession heard in 1979 slaying of N.Y. boy
  10. Medal of Honor awarded to veterans of Vietnam War
  11. U.S. will increase aid to Ebola-stricken Africa
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.