TODAY | April 19, 2013
>>> in the town of west, texas , this morning where we're following another huge story. the powerful explosion that left that town devastated.
>> more than a day later now and officials are still determining the scope of the damage and the death toll after that massive blast at a fertilizer distribution facility. a scene of grief and sadness grips the town of west, texas . it took only seconds but this small community was forever changed on wednesday. first responders were on the scene of the west fertilizer company facility after a fire broke out. then the unexpected. an enormous explosion with the force equivalent of a 2.1 magnitude earthquake. you have taken a huge hit.
>> i'm afraid we have. i don't know the exact numbers. it's not good.
>> smoke, flames and poisonous gas ripped through the air blowing out windows and engulfing houses, an apartment complex , two schools and a nursing home. it's wrath spanning several blocks.
>> the apartment complex looks like a bombing site of an explosion, the kind that you see in baghdad.
>> mayor tommy muska was on his way to the location when the explosion occurred. he and his family are safe but his fellow firefighters have been hard hit. how does a fire company deal with something like this?
>> we'll fight back like we always do.
>> the west fertilizer company was storing as much as 54 thousand pounds offed moaammonia. area hospitals have treated over 150 people.
>> we have seen what would you expect from blast injuries . a lot of skin, soft tissue injuries. some small ones, large ones.
>> the death count remains uncertain as chemicals on the ground make retrieval of the bodies dangerous. firefighter perry calvin was one of those killed at the scene. he believes behind two young sons and a pregnant wife due at thanksgiving. captain kenny harris of dallas fire rescue also died. he was off-duty at the time but responded to the call. a moment of silence was given in congress thursday for all those impacted. meanwhile, here on the ground the town gathered to share a prayer for their fallen angels .
>> i've been crying a lot with a lot of people. i've been praying a lot with a lot of people.
>> standing by the firehouse a few moments ago when the trucks pulled out because the guys wanted to go get their own.
>> yep. yep.
>> a beautiful spring on the texas prairie scorched in an instant by tragedy. and tommy