No Arrests Five Years After West Explosion
The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) says despite a lengthy investigation by its investigators and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), no one has ever been arrested and charged with setting fire to the fertilizer plant in West on April 17, 2013, that claimed 15 lives.
Investigators say the fire was intentionally set in the seed storage room of the West Fertilizer Plant. Firefighters from the West Volunteer Fire Department and numerous surrounding fire departments rushed to the plant in an attempt to douse the blaze. The fire spread to another storage site containing 30 tons of ammonium nitrate. The plant exploded killing 10 fire fighters, 2 first responders and 3 civilians. More than 200 residents were injured.
Nearby homes, an apartment complex, a nursing home, two schools and vehicles were destroyed. Debris from the explosion that resulted in a mushroom cloud over the small farming community was found a half mile away. Insured losses totaled $100 million.
Fire investigators were at the explosion site for a month and continued working on the investigation conducting tests and following up leads for more than a year before announcing that the fire was incendiary, meaning it was intentionally set.
A Texas Advisory Council on Arson (ATAC) announced today that it would offer a $1,000 reward to anyone whose phone call leads to the arrest of the person or persons involved with starting the fire. The Texas Arson Hotline is answered seven days a week, 24-hours a day and every caller remains anonymous. Those with information are asked to call 1-800-4 FIRE 45 (1-800-434-7345). Other awards have been offered by ATF and McClennan County.
“Someone knows who started this fire and we need to put this horrible event behind us,” said Tim Oates, ATAC chairman and Coppell Fire Marshal. “One phone call to the Texas Arson Hotline could do it.”
The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) provides the administrative support in keeping ATAC operational on a daily basis. ICT staff members also publish and distribute the ATAC newsletter and work closely with the SFMO in responding to calls from the Texas Arson Hotline.