Timeline of West, Texas explosion - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Timeline of West, Texas explosion

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WEST, TEXAS (WAOW) -

The city of West, Texas is still picking up the pieces, less than 24 hours after a deadly explosion.

There were a lot of first responders, doing everything they could to save lives, as time was certainly of the essence.

The events of Wednesday night started around 7:30 p.m. with a fire at the fertilizer plant. Almost immediately, homes, businesses and more than 130 nursing home residents were evacuated. Less than 30 minutes after the initial fire, the explosion happened.

The explosion was so powerful, it shook the entire area and sent fireballs into the air. Officials say because of the evacuation, the residents of the nursing home survived.

"There were some people that were in wheel chairs and we had others that were just trapped in the rooms," said William Burch of West.

Then, the reports of missing people began to roll in. Residents were asked to stay inside because of the possibility of more explosions or leaks of ammonia.

"This is probably the major most devastating thing that's happened to this community. This is just a big old cut we got across our heart," said West Mayor Tommy Muska.

Around 1:00 a.m. Thursday, the first victim numbers were announced. ABC News reports 172 people hospitalized, and first responders still missing, as of Thursday afternoon. Police say five to 15 people had lost their lives, and a number of firefighters were still unaccounted for.

Just after 5:30 a.m. Thursday, the entire town of West was evacuated. About 2,600 people call it home, but many of them won't have anywhere to return to.

"There are homes that are no longer homes. There are homes that have been flattened by the explosion," said Waco Police Sgt. William Swanton.

Just before noon Thursday, the governor of Texas declared the entire community a disaster area. President Barack Obama offered any aid the state may need. The death toll is expected to rise as crews dig through the rubble. Officials are going door-to-door in West, looking for survivors.

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http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/04/live-updates-west-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion-injures-more-than-100/

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