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Fertilizer plant in Texas explodes with force of earthquake

At around 8 p.m. last night the explosion blew out windows and made roofs collapse. After it was over, a senior-living facility, an apartment complex, and a significant number of single-family homes suffered extensive damage from the blast and debris - and the occupants inside their homes suffered worse: burns and broken bones and other injuries that sent at least 160 people to the hospital.

And NBC News reports that 15 people were killed, maybe more.

One police officer said: "I don't know how many folks may still be trapped in rubble. Homes have been destroyed. There are homes flattened. Part of that community is gone."

It's been the better part of a day and rescue workers are still looking for survivors. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has declared an emergency. A handful of volunteer firefighters, who were fighting the fire before the explosion, are missing.

All of this happened in the small town of West, Texas, pop. 2,849, which is located about 80 miles south of Dallas. In West there's the West Fertilizer Co., where the explosion took place. West Fertilizer is located quite close to a residential neighborhood and has been fined by the EPA at least twice for its failure to implement a risk-management plan.

In our book, when a company is fined by a federal agency for infractions involving safety, that's a pretty good indicator of negligence or wrongdoing, though it is too early at this point to know for sure the why and how of the explosion - an explosion that NBC News reports registered with the force of a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.

Source: Texas town a 'disaster': Blast may have killed 15, injured 160

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