SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

April 19, 2013

Crews seek survivors, bodies after Texas blast

(Continued)

While the community tended to its deep wounds, investigators awaited clearance to enter the blast zone for clues to what set off the plant’s huge stockpile of volatile chemicals.

“It’s still too hot to get in there,” said Franceska Perot, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, later adding that she wasn’t sure when her team would be able to start its investigation.

The precise death toll was uncertain. Three to five volunteer firefighters initially were believed to be among the dead, which authorities said could number as many as 15. But the state Department of Public Safety later said the number of fatalities couldn’t be confirmed.

The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department said one of its off-duty firefighters, Capt. Kenny Harris, was among those killed. Harris — a 52-year-old married father of three grown sons — lived in West and had decided to lend a hand to the volunteers battling the blaze.

The many injuries included broken bones, cuts and bruises, respiratory problems and minor burns. A few people were reported in intensive care and several more in critical condition.

First-responders evacuated 133 patients from the nursing home, some in wheelchairs. Many were dazed and panicked and did not know what happened.

William Burch and his wife, a retired Air Force nurse, entered the damaged nursing home before first-responders arrived. They searched separate wings and found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms. The halls were dark, and the ceilings had collapsed. Water filled the hallways. Electrical wires hung eerily from the ceilings.

“They had Sheetrock that was on top of them. You had to remove that,” Burch said. It was “completely chaotic.”

Gov. Rick Perry called the explosion “a truly nightmare scenario for the community” and said he had been in touch with President Barack Obama, who promised his administration’s assistance with operations on the ground.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • State sets tax holiday BOSTON -- Shoppers will get a holiday from the state sales tax on Aug. 16 and 17, after state lawmakers finally agreed on a weekend. The tax-free holiday has been an annual event since 2004, with the exception of 2009, when the state raised the sales

    August 1, 2014

  • crab Little green invaders threatening local clam flats IPSWICH -- The green crab is eating our lunch. It's been eating its way through Northeastern shellfish for years, and some local experts are worried that the undersized crustacean, about 31/2 to 4 inches across, has reached critical mass. The creatur

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shoppers1 Despite shopping elsewhere, Market Basket customers remain loyal

    SALEM -- Local Market Basket customers can't hold out any longer as the company continues to weigh offers to buy the chain, including one from ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. "I'm very proud of the employees and customers who have been holding out," s

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos 4 Stories

  • 140731_SN_DLE_APARTMENT6 Developer unveils new Peabody Square apartments PEABODY -- It's an indication of what he and his business partners want to do in the city's downtown, Norman Lee said Thursday as he showed off the stylish interiors of 10 brand-new apartments above Congressman John Tierney's office in Peabody Square

    August 1, 2014 10 Photos

  • Scandal raises questions about speaker's powers BOSTON -- The speaker of the state House of Representatives gets far-reaching powers to carve up the budget, control which bills advance, dole out committee chairmanships and reward favored lawmakers with plum office space on Beacon Hill. But the spe

    August 1, 2014