Arson led to fatal fertilizer explosion | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 20 | p. 19 | Concentrates
Issue Date: May 16, 2016

Arson led to fatal fertilizer explosion

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: industrial safety, fertilizer, West Texas, ammonium nitrate, explosion, arson
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A 2013 fire and explosion at a fertilizer store in West, Texas, killed 15 people and injured more than 200.
Credit: Mark Wingard/CSB
Photo shows remains of a fertilizer store in West, Texas, where a 2013 fire and explosion killed 15 people.
 
A 2013 fire and explosion at a fertilizer store in West, Texas, killed 15 people and injured more than 200.
Credit: Mark Wingard/CSB

An intentionally set fire caused the massive ammonium nitrate explosion in April 2013 that killed 15 people and injured hundreds more in West, Texas, federal officials announced last week. “We hypothesized, considered, tested, and eliminated all reasonable accidental and natural causes,” says Rob Elder, special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. “This fire was a criminal act.” ATF is offering up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever set the blaze at the West Fertilizer Co. storage facility. Elder said investigators determined the fire was started on purpose after they conducted more than 400 interviews and analyzed evidence at the blast site along with witness photos and videos. They also performed extensive testing at an ATF fire research lab in Beltsville, Md. No arrests have been made and authorities would not comment on whether there are any suspects. But, Elder adds, “I think we’re on the right path.”

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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