Demolition begins on apartment complex irreparably damaged in West blast




Posted on June 14, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Updated Saturday, Dec 14 at 8:02 PM

WEST –– On Thursday morning, demolition crews began knocking down what was left blown-out apartment complex that sat a few hundred feet from the West Fertilizer Co. plant that exploded in April, leaving a crater nearly 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

Dozens of tenants were left homeless after the April 17 explosion.

Rusty Johnson, a longtime West resident, was one of the men who volunteered to help with the job, saying it was an important part of moving on for the community. 

"Once it all gets cleared away, that will be huge," he said.

But crews took a cautious approach too. Many of the tenants were unable to come back and thoroughly search for personal belongings and keepsakes.  

Items like stuffed animals and photo albums that were found on Thursday were set aside so that volunteers coming on Saturday can collect the items and hopefully return them to their owners.

No one is certain what will eventually be built on the site. The family that owns the apartments will have to evaluate the foundation to see if it is still usable.

Mayor Tommy Muska told News 8 he would like to see some of the land be used as an extension for the nearby park as a way to honor the fallen.  

"I would like to see a memorial for our first responders or firefighters that died," he said.  

Any final decisions for the site are weeks away.