Criminal investigation launched into West explosion

Criminal investigation launched into West explosion

Firefighters inspect an apartment complex destroyed by an explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company on April 17, 2013. (Taken by a Volunteer Firefighter)

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by Jordan Armstrong / KVUE.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @majordyrules

kvue.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 4:55 PM

WEST, Texas -- Law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the West fertilizer plant explosion which killed 15 people and injured more then 200 last month.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that the McLennan County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers are joining together to conduct the investigation.

“This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.

“The citizens of McLennan County and Texas must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled – they deserve nothing less,” McClennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, at no time was the explosion investigation limited to an industrial accident. The State Fire Marshal’s Office and ATF have maintained from the beginning of the investigation into the origin and cause of the plant fire that an intentional act or a criminal act could not be eliminated. 

The Texas Department of Insurance added that the decision to maintain a criminal investigation is the result of:

    • Approximately 250 leads that have been developed.
    • Over 400 people that have been interviewed.
    • Approximately 20,000 hours of labor, to date, conducting the investigation.

This announcement comes a day after a former volunteer EMS worker was arrested and charged with possession of a destructive device. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed whether that has anything to do with the April 17 explosion.

For more information about disaster assistance in West click here.

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