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Cause of West Fertilizer Fire & Explosion “Undetermined”

The Texas State Fire Marshal announced Thursday the official cause of the fire and explosions at the West Fertilizer Company is “undetermined”.

Fire Marshal Chris Connealy says undetermined means “the cause cannot be proven to an acceptable level of certainity due to insufficient information or if multiple causes could not be eliminated.”

Connealy says undetermined is one of four categories of causes. The others are natural, accidential, and incendiary.

Special Agent Robert Champion of the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agency says the following causes were eliminated: rekindling from a fire earlier that day…which Champion said did not occur…spontaneous ignition, the plant’s 480 volt electrical system, anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, smoking, and the weather. Champion says causes that could not be eliminated were the plant’s 120 volt electrical system, a battery operated golf cart, and someone intentionally setting the fire.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner says ammonium nitrate caused two explosions, involving an estimated 24 to 34 tons of the product. Kistner says another 20 to 30 tons of ammonium nitrate in the same building did not explode, nor did 100 tons in a nearby railcar.

Kistner also says water used in the firefighting effort did not contribute to the explosion and the city of West’s water system was not compromised.

Connealy says family members of the 15 who died were briefed before authorities met with reporters.

Champion says authorities will not speculate if former West EMT Bryce Reed, who faces federal charges of possessing an unregistered destructive device, is connected with the fire and explosions.

West051613_nc.mp3News Conference West Fertilizer Plant Fire & Explosions, May 16 2013

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Posted by on May 16 2013. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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