tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 18, 2013 1:00am-2:00am PDT
that people evacuated the area immediately because they knew that was a possibility. it could explode. one person said, i was waiting on my mother to come out of the house to get in the car and go when it blew up. another person was quoted as saying, what were they thinking when they put this plant near houses? it's too early to speculate on why that was allowed. but suffice it to say, they will be looking into perhaps what regulations need to be. >> right. >> put in place to prevent something like this from happening in a populated area. >> charles hadlock stand by live for us in the town of west, texas. it is the top of the hour. it is 3:00 a.m. local time in the town of west, in texas. the west fertilizer plant exploding roughly six hours ago. there you see on your map the proximity to those towns. explosion that was proceeded by a fire at 7:50 p.m. local time.
they started the evacuation process. the individuals who were affected by the explosion, which happened there about 15 minutes later. at 8:05 local time. leaving buildings completely in shambles. skeletons. the concern there were subsequent fires as a result of that exmotiplosioexplosion. triage was brought to a local baseball field, where there, the number of injured, as we have not had confirmation yet, were brought to the triage and treated. and what we have heard and seen the pictures, very bloodied emergency personnel as they try to assist those injured in the process. we have confirmed f eed fatalit. but do not know a number there. the reporting coming out of the area, as well as officials, are not saying the number of fatalities. they're not giving us a number of injuries. although, there's been wide
reports of the potential range of the number of injuries. we are monitoring the local official there's to find out what will be happening in terms of that process and dealing with the fatalities as well as the injuries. the wind on the ground is expected to shift at around 7:00 a.m. local time. they are still looking for individuals in an evacuation area. although, according to charles hadlock, that activity is somewhat diminished at the moment. as well as subsequent explosions, also diminished at the moment. we have our reporter on the ground, from kxas, ben russell, watching this for us. ben, what's the latest? >> reporter: richard, i can tell you the latest is the update. i heard you speaking about a short time ago from the waco police department. that's the largest city to the south of here. the latest update as far as what they're doing. what they're doing is still going, we're told, door-to-door, in the area impacted by this, what is perhaps a five-block
area around this fertilizer plant, trying to make sure they haven't missed anyone. anyone who may have survived the situation, perhaps someone who may not have survived the situation. they want to know exactly who may be out there. this is the area. we're across the highway. about a mile or so from where the situation happened. what happened recently. you see the stacks of water and toiletries. there's people from the community showing up at this early hour or late hour for those who have not gone to bed. they're bringing the supplies for first responders, for all of these untold numbers of people who likely do not have a home to return to in the morning. we're told specifically when it comes to morning, that sun rise here is the next key indicator when they will have a better idea of just what has happened here. richard? >> ben, what are some of the things that are being brought to that location that you're at? it looks like you've got water. i imagine other items of food.
what is needed? have they described that to you? >> reporter: i can show you right here. this is toilet paper. we have gallon jug water here. stacks upon stacks of cases of water. also, underwear. both for children and for adults. there looks to be medicine. band-aids and supplies like that. people here are going to need a lot of things. this is just one small very early example of the community trying to respond to that. they tell us, they just want to help. they don't know how to do that exactly. so, they just started coming here very shortly, within the last hour, and dropping the supplies off. >> ben, as you and i both know in communities like the town of west, 2,800 people. a farming community. there are certain locations across the country that depend on ground water for their house. for their needs. for their farms. is there any concern?
have you heard any reports about concern about the ground water at this moment? since you were seeing bottles of water brought to your location? >> reporter: there haven't been specifically, richard. what i can say is what they have done, they've shut off the utilities to the area. that may include some of the water. yes. talking about ground water. people with wells. one of the major concerns, because this is a fertilizer plant, there's ammonia gas that's highly volatile. they're concerned about the way that air drifts. of course, if there's anything on the ground, as well. they really tell us they don't know. they're working. but they don't know exactly what contamination, if that's the right word, may have spread to this area. so, they're trying to figure out that. ground water. air quality. there are a lot of questions about what exactly has happened as a result of this major explosion. >> as part after those utilities being shut down, if there's natural gas, electricity, all of the items that could fuel potentially more explosions. as you and i have seen, the
pictures of the aftermath of the explosion at the fertilizer plant. homes, businesses, just in skeletons at the moment. there there's individuals in those buildings, we would be concerned about their safety and well-being. give me a sense. you're there. you're saying about a mile from the location. i'm seeing a little bit of wind. at least in your hair there. what's the smell like? what's the wind conditions? that has been a discussion because of anhydrous ammonia, reports of being that that's no longer, at the location, a concern. give us a sense of what you're feeling and seeing. >> you talk about the wind right now. the area we're looking at behind us, beyond all the vehicles, we're about a mile, as we said. a mile southwest from the location of the west fertilizer plant that blew up earlier this evening. last night, i guess as it is.
what we understand, their concern about wind direction and speed, is that it is blowing off to the north currently. so, they're asking people who live in the northern area in the area surrounding the fertilizer plant, to stay in their homes. they don't want them to go outside and potentially expose themselves to something that may be hazardous for them. we're told the big thing that will happen, alt 7:00 a.m. local time, around the time a new weather front is supposed to come through and shift the winds from the north to the south and to the west. the area where we are and people in a larger residential area on the west side of interstate 35, this divides the area of the town. they're telling us around 7:00 in the morning local time, that's when the winds could shift. they may potentially need to start now talking about informing those people to stay inside. >> and the smell in the air? what does the air smell like?
>> reporter: nothing, honestly. at a point earlier last night, closer to the scene, 200 to 400 yards away from the fire, standing across the street from buildings on fire, that no firefighters were tending to because they had bigger priorities down the road. at that point, we could smell something. i wouldn't describe it as a chemical smell. it smelled like a fire. it smelled like a lot of fires smelled like. it didn't smell particularly noxious. i haven't felt affects of it. i haven't heard of anyone else feeling the same thing. it seems as though that may not be an issue. that's just again my perspective. >> ben, since you've been there on-scene over the evening, this is now hour six into this emergency. give me a sense of how the scene and the story line has changed over the last six hours. put some context around this for us. >> reporter: i can tell you, as far as covering the story, one of the first things that happened. we went to the area i described, a couple hundred yards away from the center of the activity.
the place where these explosions happened. we went to an area we were told you can be there. there were there 20 minutes, until we were told no longer. it wasn't safe. they moved us back to another area on the south part of the town, to the other side of where this had happened. then, we were moved to this location on the west side of the highway. things are changing. how this has worked. at first, when we arrived, shortly after the explosions happened, it was a sense of -- i don't want to say panicked. it was controlled. they had their priorities in place of what needed to be done when. i'm speaking of those in charge. those in charge of emergency management, they seem to be in control of what they want to do and how to communicate that. there's been an overall sense of getting the job done. but as far as the activity level, that has calmed down as the night has gone on. the fire appears to be under control. they are concerned about one unexploded tank, they're trying to vent gas from to prevent
explosions. they have a lot of work left to do. but the mood has remained unchanged. they seem to be focused at the task. >> you spoke with those on the ground. what have local residents and citizens said about this plant? >> reporter: about the plant itself, it is in town. may sound strange to some. a woman we spoke with her son, they live catty-corner from the area. they were in the area when it exploded. the young man said he broke a few of his ribs. he seemed to be fine, considering what happened. it's there. it's a part of their town. no one seems to be openly questioning what or why this may have happened. i believe they're sort of -- they're much more concerned at this point with just what happened. we're talking about a potentially dozens upon dozens of homes. several firefighters from this community, unaccounted for. at least one police officer unaccounted for.
we know there have been fatalities. the exact number, they will not confirm yet. same goes for the number of injured. officially around 100 people. they tell us they want to get the numbers right. so, in talking to the people who live here, that's their attitude, too. some have come to this area trying to find whatever help they could get, as far as which direction they need to go in. but people seem to be focused on trying to get through the night. >> ben russell, kxas, at one of the gathering point there's, outside of the fertilizer plant explosion. water and other supplies being brought to that location. thank you, ben russell. appreciate all of that great reporting there. you watched and give us perspective. he was mentioning those on the ground. a young person describing how his ribs were hurt and felt the force of this explosion, which measured a 2.1 on the richter scale. here's another eyewitness account. take a listen.
>> i saw the explosion. and after that, i took off running. and then, i saw the rest home. and people, you know, were buried under the rest home. the rest home was gone. just evacuating the rest home. helping them. getting the critical ones to the hospital here. it was crazy. >> talk about that nursing home. >> it was gone. the school was gone. the apartments are gone. it's horrible. >> how did you get the scars on your face and the shirt the way it looks? >> i was actually out in front of the intermediate school, right next to the fertilizer plant. across the railroad tracks. out of nowhere, i'm sitting in my truck. and then, boom. and glass went everywhere. i just ran. >> what's going on in your head?
>> i'm in shock. just crazy. something you don't want to deal with. ever. >> all that is from the glass? >> yes. >> what do you hope to come of all this? >> i hope for everybody that's, you know, in the hospital right now, that hopefully we can pull back together and build up our community again. >> what do you think is the -- talk more about what you saw. the things that you -- you see that -- >> just fire everywhere. and just bodies on the ground. bloody bodies. people in panic. firemen, fire trucks, police cars, filled the town. >> and they -- what did you hear? and what did you smell? tell me about the senses. >> just the smell just -- you know, that ammonia. it was fertilizer. you could smell that in the air. black smoke. and a horrible scene.
>> an eyewitness account there. you saw his t-shirt. it looked to be bloodied. at least based on the pictures we saw there, or soiled in some fashion. that from hours earlier. hour six has been mentioned. post the explosion in texas. at the moment, we have no confirmed number of injuries or f fatalities. but we have confirmed reports there are fatalities and injuries. we'll talk about that as they determine -- the amount of damage there in the town of west, in texas. just about 20 miles right outside there of waco. we'll also get an understanding of what local authorities are doing at this moment. we had a report about 45 minutes ago. we'll update you on msnbc on this breaking news, coming out of texas. that's easy to digest so you can fully enjoy the dairy you love. lactaid®. for 25 years, easy to digest. easy to love.
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investigation team from the u.s. chemical safety board to the scene. what has been a massive fire and explosion at the west fertilizer plant, located in the town of west, texas. about 20 miles north of waco. we're also hearing that this team is going to be arriving some time thursday afternoon. we're going to talk about that right after this break.
and hearing. >> reporter: we're at a media staging area right off i-35. you mentioned near waco and west. this is a town that's devastated. more than 100 injuries. that's according to the texas department of public safety. other estimates put that number at much more, as we've been reporting. there are confirmed fatalities. we don't know how many yet. hundreds of emergency personnel responded. the town volunteer firefighters responded to a call at the fertilizer plant. and the town mayor was among those who responded. he was calling to evacuate the area around the plant. the blast followed about 15 minutes later or so. the mayor says five or six volunteer firefighters were at the plant fire when the explosion happened. not all of them have been accounted for. he said. now, a search for survivors has continued throughout the night, as emergency workers have gone hon-to-house. several dozen people were rushed to hospitals in waco.
others flown to hospitals in dallas. the u.s. chemical safety board said it was deploying a large investigation team to west. crews across texas, also, heading to the scene. and what we've seen in the last few hours, is that this entire town of 2,800 people was just shaken. we've been talking to them throughout the night. many of them know someone directly impacted by this blast. they're praying that the death toll isn't as bad as some people fear or expect. we spoke with one woman who rushed from her house after the initial fire. he got out before that massive explosion. she's waiting to hear if her home is standing. she, like many others here, depending on the kindness of friends and family to get them through this horrible, horrible night. many more are waiting to find out about loved ones.
and many are hoping this isn't as bad as many expect it. >> 3:20 in the morning local time, central time. they're looking at hour six of this catastrophe. you're describing the location where authorities are talking with the media, as well as other activities going on. what's your sense of the organization? and how well they're operating at this moment? >> reporter: it was amazing to see. even some of the aerial coverage, from local tv news helicopters how big of a presence there was here very quickly. mutual aid called from the counties throughout the area. hundreds of emergency personnel were here. they're following very orderly procedure. they plan for these emergencies like this. but it is good to see that everything seems to be working. and they are briefing the media
every hfew hours. right now, a lot of questions with regards to fatalities. we're waiting were those numbers. we're waiting to hear more information here. >> what is new that we're hearing is that you're saying local officials are now saying more than 100 injuries. very careful, as you know, gabe, earlier on not to give us numbers. not to provide numbers on fat e fatalities or injuries. but more than 100 injuries. before we let you go, you are just getting on the scene. give us a sense of the difficulty or the ease of getting to the town, as you've just arrived? >> reporter: well, driving on i-35, there's a heavy police presence. and it is jammed up as you try to get off the freeway into the town. and the initial phases of this incident, there were evacuations going on. that has seemed to calm down. firefighters have this situation under control. they seem to have the fire under
control. but there's still a lot of congestion in this small town. not used to this much foot traffic. you know, they are keeping the media -- trying to keep us in one location, in order to be able to give us information, as they often do in these situations. >> gabe, i know you had to get out there and do some reporting for us. thank you so much. great stuff. we'll touch base later. let's go to charles hadlock, who has also been there and monitoring the situation overnight. charless as we heard from gabe gutierrez, local officials saying over 100 injuries. it could be larger than that. this happened at 7:50 p.m. in the epping. we were listening to one of the eyewitness accounts from a young resident there.
at an intermediate school. across the street on a wednesday, 7:50 p.m. good thing. classes were out. and little activity in that area. >> it could be. and it's not far from a hospital either in town. i'm downtown. the small main street of west, texas. in front of a store front. all of the windows are totally blown out of one building that faces to the north. facing the direction of where the plant is located. now, we are told that by the police officials that the heavy police presence here, blocking the streets, was in response to everything, believe it or not, looting during the chaos. that's why the police are still here. updated numbers on patients when you have time. >> all right, charles. we're going to get those updated numbers from you in a second. we have to take a quick break here on msnbc. we'll take it back to the ground.
confirmed fatalities, yes. but not a number on that yet. this was one of the doctors on the ground earlier. he headed up the ems there in the town, in the area, as they were responding to this explosion. take a listen to what he said earlier. >> we got a report of a fire at the fertilizer plant. the fire trucks went there. we sent a unit. i went over to the station closest to where the fire was and called all personnel to me there. in the building and said yet people evacuated to the far side of the building. luckily, we had most everybody out then. but then, there was just a major, major explosion. the windows came in on me. the roof came in on me. the ceiling came in. i worked my way out to go get some more help. we lost all communication because the power went out. the station is damaged.
the whole 1500 block of stillmeadow, the closest street to it. my son lives there. he was on the second floor, when he -- the roof would have fallen of him. that whole street is gone. >> where were you at? >> i was in the nursing home. >> explain, how are you feeling right this second? >> exhausted. trying to get everybody where they need to. try to do my job. i can't communicate with anybody. we didn't have cell service. got enough information to the helicopter because they have different radio systems. mclennan county disaster to get us the ambulances and helicopters, everything we could here. we have a lot of people still trapped in houses. but that's dangerous material. that's hazardous material. we can't get to them right now. >> have you ever seen anything like this before? >> i was with the disaster medical assistance team, fema.
but it's overwhelming for a town of 2,400. we have three ambulances. and there are literally hundreds of people hurt. i know -- i haven't been there. but i'm very worried that my ambulance on the scene, those personnel are probably deceased. i think some of the firemen might be deceased. i was inside a building quite a way from there. most of the houses are in bad shape. the building is destroyed. >> what would you describe this as? >> a bomb. an atom bomb. >> what's your emotional state right now? >> overwhelmed. trying to do the best i can. they're trying to sit me down. i'm bleeding. i have a job to do. there's people hurt more than me that i need to get. i can't communicate with my people. our radios aren't working. i don't know where my people are to get back to them.
>> who are you most worried about right now? >> the people trapped in houses. the ems personnel. we had a class going on. 18 people trying to help. they were running in that direction when the explosion happened. i have no idea how many ems people may be hurt. >> if you could ask for anything from the nation, right now, what would it be? >> we're getting support. the main thing is to get support here. we're going to need heavy equipment. probably the search team from texas a&m. it's like an earthquake. a lot of the buildings are gone. we need the search teams to get the people out. probably from texas a&m. i called a friend of mine in austin. and i said please notify austin what's going on. we're going to need more than local. >> right now, is god the only thing that can help you guys? >> yeah. we have help. you can see just right here,
there's an east texas ambulance here. everybody around helping us. but it's a true disaster situation. >> what are your prayers for today and tomorrow? >> that we get as many saved that we can. and get them to hospital so they can get appropriate care. i believe we have a total of six helicopters on the way. there's one right there. >> you look like you're in pain. can you feel that with your adrenaline? >> yeah. but i just have a job to do. thank god i normally go to the scene. i got to the fire. and thank god i wasn't, i probably would be dead. my wife is with me. she's in the truck right there. on the other side of the nursing home, that blew out the windows in my truck and screwed the door up and the hood from the other side of the nursing home.
>> dr. george smith there, the head of the ems in west, texas. and he really gave us a good characterization of the conflict. of the many hats the town and those residents carry on. a town of 2,800. the mayor, for instance, is also a firefighter. he was there dealing with the situation. the concern right now, is where are some of the firefighters? as many as six we're hearing are unaccounted for. we'll have more on the ground. we go straight to the ground.
for the times you need to double-check the temperature on the thermometer, be ready. for high fever, nothing works faster or lasts longer. be ready with children's motrin. local authorities there at the explosion site in west, texas, have been very careful about reporting the number of fatalities as well as injuries. our charles hadlock, following the scene there overnight. you have new information for us? >> reporter: yes, i do. and i'm also have a guest here i'm going to try to track down here real quick. let me give you the numbers of. these are new numbers, 30 minutes ago. at hillcrest hospital in waco, they've treated 94 patients. that's a lower estimate than originally reported. they admitted 19 patients. they've had five patients
undergo surgeries tonight. and will perform a few more, according to doctors. at temple, there have been two patients admitted. at providence hospital, 65 patients admitted in the hospital. joining me is louise mills. louise, where are you a resident of? tell us what brings you in the middle of the night, to west, texas? >> i'm looking for my brother, who has been missing since the explosion. >> what's your brother's name? >> morris burgess. >> tell us how you came to know that he is in trouble? >> i had some friends that were seeing the local news. they tell me that west had a big explosion. and i knew my brother was a volunteer fire department firefighter. and when i started calling him, he never answered. and i just got in the car and
came here and started looking for him. and we are not found him. >> how did you know you went to the fire? >> he was a first responder, firefighter. he got the call. he went to the firestation. went to the plant where they were having the fire. and my sister-in-law was on the porch. the kids were in the backyard. they live about three houses down. she heard the explosion about 30 minutes after he left. and it blew her back into the house, all the windows were gone. everything was just demolished in the house. we haven't heard from him. >> tried calling? >> tried calling. all of the friends he went out with are either back at the firestation and then gone home. i don't know who they are. and his car and three other cars are still sitting there. and nobody will tell us where the dead bodies are or maybe
he's on another call. we don't know. >> have you searched the hospitals? >> we've been to all the hospitals. everybody, you know, there's nobody there from dallas to temple. >> a long night for you. >> yes. we're not going to bed until i find him. >> we wish you well. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for joining us. that's louise mills, a resident of the area. her brother's a firefighter, right now, she can't find. richard? >> charles, very difficult for the residents there in west, texas. as we continue to tell the story, that's the dynamic. it could be much worse, although the search goes on for so many families. and the firefighters. those first responders that louise mills was talking about. it is a good thing that they were on scene 15 minutes before the explosion.
talk about the early evacuation stage and how they were able to prevent more injuries. >> when the fire initially started, they were trying to put it out. they realized the fire was getting away from them, according to the mayor, who is also a volunteer firefighter. he had ordered that people start evacuating the area. within minutes of that was when the explosion happened. a tragic scene here in west. the mayor himself was slightly -- his helmet was blown off. his house was damaged. windows and doors blown out. as many here in town did. and he's concerned about the firefighters who he says are missing. >> as we continue to look at the numbers, you reported to us just moments ago. they're coming out of hillcrest baptist medical center. just by that one location, that
one hospital, and putting that together with the reports that we've heard from the briefings overnight, some refusing to give us numbers or being careful about giving the numbers of injuries. and those earlier saying there was more than 100. we're getting different reports at the moment about the number of injuries. but based on what you've been able to provide to us from hillcrest hospital, the magnitude, the possibility of this going past 100 easily, unfortunately, looks to be coming a more real possibility going forward. >> yeah. when you look at the aerials from the helicopter of how widespread the damage is, on the north part of town, how everything is flattened for blocks on end, you just got to wonder what happened to those people. >> charles, we were also
listening to dr. george smith who headed up the ems response there. we got a sense. before the break, we got a sense of the different hats that each one of those many of the residents have to wear. you brought up the mayor also being a fireman. also knowing the people quite well, perhaps, they are trying to help. >> absolutely right. the mayor protem, when he arrived on the scene, according to newspaper reports has told the firefighters unaccounted for, he grabbed his face with his hands and bent over in agony. he knew many of the men who are now missing from that fire team. >> the numbers you gave us from hillcrest hospital. 94 patients treated. admitting 19. if we do our math there, over 100 clearly, that would have been injured, based at least on those numbers, perhaps.
how are the facilities? how are the hospitals in the areas, being able to respond to this catastrophe there in the large number of patients? >> there are a ton of centers, of course, in waco and in temple. you have the renowned scott and white hospital. and in dallas, you have parkman hospital, which is famous for treating burn victims and other major hospitals in dallas that have and ft. worth that have helicopter services. all of those were summoned to this small town today to evacuate the injured. >> heading up on the quarter hour here on msnbc. we continue to follow breaking news coming out of a town just about 20 miles outside of waco, texas. it is the town of west. 2,800. we're now entering the seventh hour of an explosion at a fertilizer plant there. the numbers getting at the moment, vary in terms of those injured.
we got a report around 12:25 a.m. thursday, from a texas department public safety trooper. that there were more than 100 injured. we also heard at another briefing about a couple hours later, that they were unable to determine the number of injured. and then, we got a report moments ago, from gabe gutierrez, that the number is 100 or more from local officials. they're still trying to nail down the result of that fertilizer plant explosion. it happened at 8:05 local time. 7:50 reports of a fire at the fertilizer plant. one of the concerns earlier on, charles, was that the anhydrous ammonia. we talked about over the subsequent hours. there were reports earlier from eyewitnesses or reporters on the
ground, smelling of smoke. perhaps a smell of ammonia. in the seventh hour. talking to another reporter on the ground. he was giving us the arc of how the story had changed. any smell on the ground, quickly? >> not at all. i'm walking around downdown west, texas. you wouldn't expect to smell anything. but that could change in the next three to four hours when this major cold front sweeps across the state. comes across and changes the winds from the south to the north. at that point, we might be able to see the smoke and smell it. for now, most of the town of west is unaffected by the smoke or the fumes. >> that's good news, charles, that we don't have reports of any sort of smell. okay. charles hadlock on the ground. we're going to get back to you later after this break. we're live in west, texas.
this catastrophe. this is pictures of the triage close by they have enough resources on the ground to help. the question is how many fatalities are there at the moment? we'll get the latest on the ground there in town. that is right outside of waco, texas. west, texas, where fertilizer plant exploded about seven hours ago. local officials updating us on hour ago. all that information and more. [ female announcer ] are you sensitive to dairy? then you'll love lactose-free lactaid® it's 100% real milk that's easy to digest so you can fully enjoy the dairy you love. lactaid®. for 25 years, easy to digest. easy to love. progressive direct and other car insurance companies? yes. but you're progressive, and they're them. yes. but they're here. yes. are you...? there? yes. no. are you them? i'm me.
then you'll love lactose-free lactaid® it's 100% real milk that's easy to digest so you can fully enjoy the dairy you love. lactaid®. for 25 years, easy to digest. easy to love. i just saw the explosion. and then, after that, i took off running. and then, i saw the rest home. evacuating them and getting the critical ones to the hospital
here. it was just crazy. just crazy. >> talk about the nursing home. >> it was gone. the school's gone. the apartments are gone. it's horrible. >> how did you get the scars on your face and the shirt the way it looks? >> i was actually out in front of the intermediate school, right next to the fertilizer plant, across the railroad tracks. me and my friends were looking at the fire. out of nowhere -- i'm sitting in my truck. and, boom. the big explosion. glass went everywhere. as soon as -- i just ran. ran after that. >> so, what are you thinking right now? what's going on in your head? >> i'm in shock from the whole thing. it's crazy. something you never want to deal with. ever. >> all that is from the glass? >> yes. >> what do you hope to come of all this? >> i just hope that, you know, for everybody that's, you know, in the hospital right now, that
hopefully we can pull back together and build up our community again. >> what do you think is the -- talk more about what you saw. the thing that you've seen. you see that the town you once knew. >> just fire everywhere. and just bodies on the ground. bloody bodies. people in panic. firemen, fire trucks, police cars, filled the town. >> and what did you hear and what did you smell? tell me about the senses. >> it smelled, you know, that ammonia. it was fertilizer. you could smell that in the air. and black smoke. and just a horrible scene. >> sense of how large the explosion is. measuring 2.1 on the richter scale. they are still on the ground from our last report, coming from a news briefing.
sergeant william swanson, from the waco police department, in the town of west, texas, to assist, saying they were still looking and going door-to-door for -- in certain areas. however, as charles hadlock has been telling us, that seems to be diminished activity, compared to earlier in the evening. speaking with "the new york times," the destruction, the magnitude of this explosion, was similar to an iraq war scene, in terms of describing the destruction. also, saying that one might compare it to the 1995 oklahoma city bombing in terms of the magnitude again and the after effects of the explosion. winds on the ground, our last report, overcast with haze and windy. you get a sense in this picture of one of the buildings that was on fire after the explosion. wind is part of this. 75 degrees fahrenheit. wind speeds, 26 to 36 miles per hour. excuse me.
30 miles per hour, as high as that, according to one of our latest reports in the area. so, winds will shift, though. in about three or four hours. we're about to enter the eighth hour since this explosion has happened on the ground. charles hadlock, who has been there reporting for us. charles, emergency resources, the report is they got enough of that at the moment. >> they certainly do. in fact, before midnight, they were saying we don't need anymore first responders here. thank you for the help. but we have enough help. i think they were really concerned about how many casualties they were and how widespread the damage was. once they got an assessment of that and went block-by-block, searching for victims. they decided, okay, we don't need anymore help right now. i just left the downtown area. got a glimpse up to the north, a few blocks north of downtown. and there was a very concentrated area of first
responders in one particular area. not quite certain yet -- haven't mapped that out to figure out what that is they're interested in. but that's where the concentration of first responders seems to be right now. >> you were just at one of the business locations. you said the windows were blown out. give us more detail about what you're seeing on the ground. we got about 40 seconds here, charles. >> a lot of store front windows are broken in downtown west. that is the scene that is worse as you go north, towards the blast scene. the plant was on the north side of town. we're now stationed on the south part of town. but the fear is, when the winds change, we could get some of the smoke. >> again, we are watching the situation, still changing. now, about to entering into hour eight in the town of west, texas, 20 miles outside of waco. we have no confirmed numbers. have confirmed fatalities and injuries. we'll get the latest forou