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West Damage Assessment & Search For Cause Continue

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West Explosion

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WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – As some say goodbye to loved ones in West, others try to figure out what’s next in the recovery…especially when it comes to their homes.

For more than 300 residents there may be no homes to return to. Damage is extensive in the areas surrounding the West Fertilizer plant and the depth of the destruction is still being determined.

While affected West residents spent day two evaluating damage to their personal property, investigators spent another day trying to determine what ignited the plant fire that led to the explosion.

The blast left a crater at the site that is 10 feet deep and 93 feet wide.

On this dreary, chilly Tuesday morning Jack Millhollin, his wife Lola and his son, worked to quickly gather what was left of their possessions.

The house the family called home for the last two months sits at the backyard of the West Fertilizer plant.  While the back brick wall of the house took the brunt of the explosion, the family escaped unharmed. “This is a tragedy,” Jack Millhollin said. “Ours is loss of stuff. We’re okay. My heart goes out to those who lost family.”

Structural engineers assessed homes damaged in the blast area known as “zone two.” Those investigating the fire and explosion say their search for a cause will be slow and methodical.  The answers may not come soon.

Assistant Texas Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said, “What we will be looking for is to find the first heat source that started the fire, that heat source that’s there.”

There are 70 state and federal agents at the plant site, examining every part of the fire and explosion. “As we go through this, everybody will be working together to form a collective opinion of how the fire started, where it started, and what caused that explosion,” Kistner said.

While investigators don’t know exactly what caused the fire they know what didn’t. Electrical engineers, chemists, ATF investigators and others have officially dismissed talk of a rail car filled with ammonium nitrate as an ignition point.

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