One month after West blast, still many questions left unanswered

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 7:23 AM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 7:40 AM

WEST, Texas -- On the one-month anniversary of the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX, a cause is still undetermined.

“This could be due to insufficient information or if multiple causes could not be eliminated,” Chris Connealy with the State Fire Marshal said.

Officials suspect the fire behind two blasts on April 17th may have been sparked by a golf cart battery, poor electrical wiring, or else a criminal who set it on purpose.

Because it burned so hot, destroying potential evidence, it may be all they ever know.  

The blast carried the strength of 15-20,000 pounds of TNT, leaving a hole 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

Investigators say combing the site was not unlike what they saw during the Oklahoma City bombing or on 911.

On Thursday officials with the ATF and Texas Fire Marshal’s Office met with families at a church in West before they spoke with reporters.

Billy Uptmore was there. His son, Buck, was among the 15 victims who died in the blast.

“Wish I had my son back,” he said. Like many residents, he had hoped for closure and clarity, but did not get it.

“We just need answers,” said John Crowder, pastor of the First Baptist Church. Yet he believes what they know now is still better than nothing.

“These folks were able to provide a lot of those answers and at least narrow down some of the things we don’t know they were able to narrow down and get us closer to some sense of understanding,” he said.

At the same time, officials did not talk about Bryce Reed, a 31-year old volunteer EMT from West who pleaded not guilty this week to the possession of a destructive device.

When he was arrested last week, court documents revealed he had allegedly stored bomb making materials at a home in Abbott, TX.

“Authorities will not speculate whether the possession of an unregistered destructive device has any connection,” ATF Special Agent Robert Champion said Thursday.

Officials say the dead and missing have all been accounted for, following an investigation which has cost more than $1 million.

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