WACO, Texas — An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco sent flames shooting high into the sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage at nearby buildings and injuring numerous people.
The blast at the plant in West, a community north of Waco, happened shortly before 8 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles north.
Several fires continued to burn in West two hours after the blast. In aerial footage from Dallas' NBC affiliate, WDFW, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. The roads around West were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help.
Authorities set up a staging area on the local high school's football field, which was lit up with floodlights. Ambulances and several dozen injured people could be seen being taken away or seated in wheelchairs as they are treated and await transport.
Department of Public Safety troopers used their squad cars to transport the injured, Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the department's Waco office, told television station KWTX. She said six helicopters were also en route to help out.
The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.
Lydia Zimmerman told KWTX she and her family were in their garden in Bynum, 13 miles from West, when she heard multiple blasts. "It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us," she said.