WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – In West, the community gathered in prayer and held a candlelight vigil to remember the 15 people, mostly firefighters, who died two years ago at 7:51 p.m., when the fertilizer plant in town caught fire and exploded.
The blast knocked Mimi Irwin to the ground. “It’s like yesterday.” She quickly left her house, and raced over to the Village Bakery, the oldest Czech bakery in Texas, which her family has owned for 63 years.
When Irwin got there employees were busy baking. “If the whole thing collapsed, they could be dead. I was sick at my stomach,” she said.
Relief set in when Irwin realized none of the windows shattered and her employees were okay. “They looked like a little angel choir, scared to death with their flashlights.”
The explosion took her back 12 years to the September 11th terror attack, when she was living in New York City, close to the World Trade Center. “It was totally out of the realm of possibilities in my brain, that anything would occur in West that would be of this magnitude.”
Nothing is left where the fertilizer plant once stood, but the city is re-building all around the site. Residents are still putting up new homes.
A new combined high school and middle school is going up and will be completed in time for classes in the fall of 2016.
The new West Rest Haven nursing home is set to open next month. And Mimi Irwin is smiling. “It’s very important that it come back, and it has.”
The dark days have passed. Those in West say each day continues to shine brighter.