Homes still empty one month after West explosion


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

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Posted on May 16, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Updated Thursday, May 16 at 10:20 PM

WEST -- Collapsed roofs, spray painted homes and shattered windows: These are the effects of the West fertilizer plant explosion, but the cause is still unknown.

“At this time, the State Fire Marshal's office and the ATF are ruling the cause of this fire as undetermined. The investigation will remain open,” said State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy at a press conference Thursday.

“Can they sleep a little better knowing that some things were ruled out, some things weren't? It could have been a short, it could have been a golf cart, we don't know. They don't know,” said West mayor Tommy Muska in reaction to Thursday’s announcement.

The investigation is still active, however, not everyone is looking for someone to blame.

“We don't want to point the finger at certain individuals, it was just an accident,” Margie Dayton, a resident of West told KVUE.

“I think they've done a very thorough investigation, and they've done the best they can,” said McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.

The people of West are still left literally picking up the pieces at homes near the blast site, but many say despite the ATF findings, they just want to know when they can get back into their homes.

“Is it closure? No. I think it'll be closure when we get houses starting to be rebuilt, and the streets repaired. That's going to be more closure,” Muska said.

It’s been a month since the explosion and the wounds are still fresh.

“We have just begun the process of understanding what has happened,” said John Crowder, the pastor of First Baptist Church in West.

In a tearful interview, Dayton told KVUE “I lost some good friends, and I feel so bad for their children that lost their dads. You know, it's just not fair. They were working to save us, and they gave up their lives. They are heroes.”

The sacrifice of those heroes continues to unite a town that is still looking for answers.

Investigators would not comment Thursday on Bryce Reed, the former West EMS worker arrested for having bomb making materials.

They say there's no evidence he is connected to the explosion.