• November 26, 2014

Local firefighters respond to West explosion; Killeen fire chief calls it 'total devastation'

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 1:18 pm | Updated: 1:29 pm, Thu Apr 18, 2013.

Most local personnel dispatched last night to West have either returned or are on their way back from the scene of the fatal explosion.

Killeen Fire Department’s hazardous materials team left the small town at about 7 a.m. this morning. Two vehicle from Central Bell Fire Rescue are on their way back to town, and Fort Hood has reduced the number of personnel it has at the scene.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is now in charge of the recovery effort, said KFD Chief J.D. Gardner. Gardner is the only remaining member of KFD at the scene of what he called “total devastation.”

“We’re in the middle of getting things back to normal,” said Gardner, who was with West Mayor Tommy Muska when reached on the phone.

Shortly after the a large amount of ammonium nitrate at West Fertilizer Company exploded, Harker Heights Fire Department received a call from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office requesting the use of its regional command van communications center. The large vehicle resembles a motor home and contains sophisticated equipment to allow rescue emergency agencies communicate with each other, said HHFD Chief Jack Collier.

“I’m just sad because I know this is really bad and my hearts go out to the volunteer firefighters up there in West that were rushing in to fight the fires when the explosion occurred,” he said.

Other responding fire departments included Sparta Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Temple Fire Department and search and rescue staff from Fort Hood.

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