Search continues for cause of West explosion

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by DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 8:39 AM

WEST, Texas — The City of West said Tuesday that multiple agencies are "working diligently" to find the cause of last week's fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people and injured more than 200 others.

The state fire marshal's office said there are 70 state and federal agents on the ground, working by hand, going shovel by shovel through the blast site seeking out the heat source that started the fire which triggered the blast.

We learned Tuesday that the crater it left behind is 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

At a news conference Tuesday, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara revealed there have been arrests for looting in the blast zone.

"We’ve not been able to confirm that yet with the Police Department."

The sheriff also said there have been reports that groups are planning to protest some of the many funerals lined up in the days ahead.

He's talking specifically about the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas. That group believes tragic events like this are God's punishment for immoral behavior.

The sheriff is having none of it.

"Make no mistake about it," McNamara said. "Any attempt by any group or organization to disrupt the funerals of any of our victims of this tragedy will be dealt with swiftly and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

The investigation into the cause of the explosion at West Fertilizer Company is at full speed. The state fire marshal told us 60 to 70 people were interviewed by investigators on Monday.

West city officials said they still do not have a firm answer on when evacuated residents can go home. Engineers and inspectors spent the day in Zone C, checking out the properties closest to the blast site.

Utilities have been restored in some areas, with water a top priority. A boil water notice remained in effect on Tuesday.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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