WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – Daylight arrived Thursday in the devastated town of West, along with a cold rain. The morning hours offered residents a new perspective on the destruction caused when a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday evening. More than 160 people were left injured and rescue crews continued to search through the debris for survivors.
For some, the daylight has only revealed more shock.
Czech Bakery is one of the most popular places in West. Located along Interstate-35, the 24-hour stop is famous for its kolaches. A command center for emergency personnel was set up just a few blocks away. First responders were in and out of the bakery all night long, getting something warm to eat.
CBS 11 News spoke with some of the workers on Thursday morning. Many had been at the site since Wednesday night. And when asked about those firefighters who were battling the original fire at the fertilizer plant, just before it exploded, there was only grim silence. Nobody wanted to comment on the stories of lost comrades. “We hear as many as 10,” whispered one firefighter, before turning to walk back outside into the rain.
Local residents also came in and out of the bakery throughout the night. Mike Sulak and his wife have lived in West for 32 years, and his downtown pharmacy helped crews with first aid supplies. “We loaded up all the bandages, alcohol and ointment,” Sulak said, “anything we thought would help, and loaded it up and took it over to the triage.”
Sulak and his wife were having dinner in Waco on Wednesday night when the explosion happened. They rushed back to West, but could not get into their home. They live only a quarter-mile away from the blast site. Sulak described the damage. “The front door is blown in, all the windows on that side of the house are blown in. The ceiling has completely collapsed,” he said.
The couple will stay with their son out of town until repairs can be made to their home. But his pharmacy was not damaged, and Sulak plans to open it up for city officials once he can get back into the downtown area.
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