WEST, Texas — On the first Sunday after a fertilizer plant explosion leveled part of a tiny Texas town, pastor John Crowder stood atop a long flatbed overlooking a hayfield and spoke to his congregation.
Crowder’s First Baptist Church in West remains blocked off as investigators work on the scene of Wednesday’s blast that killed at least 14 people and injured 200. So about 100 people sat in white folding chairs Sunday morning, while others carried their own.
“We have lost our friends and neighbors,” Crowder told the audience. We have lost the safety and comfort of our homes. But as scary as this is, we don’t have to be afraid.”
Authorities have not yet identified what caused the blast, which was so powerful it registered as a small earthquake. Assistant state fire marshal Kelly Kistner said the blast left “a large crater.”
The explosion destroyed about 50 homes and severely damaged a nursing home and other buildings nearby. Kistner said all fires have been extinguished at the explosion scene and the remaining fertilizer tanks at West Fertilizer Co. are not a danger.