Fertilizer Plant Explodes in Texas, shakes small town of West

The remains of the fertilizer plant, after the blast.  Photo courtesy MSN//Rod Aydelotte/AP.

West, Texas - Anywhere from five to 15 people have been killed in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas.  The blast leveled buildings, creating a burst of energy equal to a magnitute 2.1 earthquake.

There was no indication of criminal activity, Waco, Texas, police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday, although the area was being treated as a crime scene as a precautionary measure.

"It was a huge explosion," he said. "It reached blocks, if not miles, in its devastating effect. ... My guess is going to be that ... we will see the casualty rate rise and the injury rate rise."

Swanton also reported that there are between three and five firefighters missing.  He said early this morning that "at this point we do not have confirmed numbers. I can tell you there are hundreds of people who have been injured."  He said approximately 50 to 75 homes in the area had been damaged.

There are only about 2,700 residents in West, which lies about 20 miles north of Waco, Texas.