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Part of community 'gone' after massive Texas blast

Small Texas town of West reels after massive explosion at fertilizer plant decimates community

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need every ambulance we can get this way. A bomb just went off. We've got a lot of firefighters down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are firefighters down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rest home seriously damaged. We have many people down. Please respond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting you everybody I can. You have deputies, fire, EMS. I'm sending everybody I got.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A monstrous explosion at a fertilizer plant killing as many as 15 people. And 24 hours later several volunteer firefighters are missing and feared dead. More than 160 people are injured. Fox News correspondent Dominic Di-Natale is in West, Texas. Dominic, tell me what's going on there tonight.

DOMINIC DI-NATALE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we now have a casualty number of in excess of 200. That's the latest numbers we've got. With regards to actual number of deaths, the authorities are still putting it in the range between five and 15 at this time. The mayor of this town, a community of 2,500 people, says between eight and 10 bodies have been recovered, and they think half a dozen more bodies will be found in the hours ahead. Search will continue throughout the night.

One victim, the Dallas fire rescue captain Kenny Harris. He was 52 years old, a 30-year veteran of the service. He leaves behind a wife and three sons. We also understand that three paramedics also died. And there are between three and five firefighters who currently go unaccounted for.

The community very much shaken by this news. That's why we saw so many people pack into St. Mary's, the church in the town, an hour or so ago. It was literally wall-to-wall people crammed in. Firefighters in attendance, a lot of tears and personal reflection, it's shaken the community very much to the core.

As for the cause of the blast, we just don't know very much about that at this time. We do know that a fire had broken out. When fire crews turned up, they doused the flames with water, but because it was ammonium nitrate that was at the site, there are suspicions that water when it mixes with it could be a hazardous situation. Right now the authorities are dealing with it as a criminal situation because that is protocol could take up to six months before we know the cause. Back to you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dominic, thank you.

The giant blast sending first responders racing into action, a job dangerous even for firefighters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any fire unit near the fetor line plant, you need to pull back immediately. Any fire department close to the fertilizer plant, pull back. Attention, all units, if you're near the red zone, you need to evacuate toward the command center. It is still a hot zone. Again, if I have any units, near the rest home, you need to evacuate toward command center.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: James Stefka and Dale Yates from Waco EMS join us. Good evening, sirs, both of you. James, do you have any information tonight beyond what Dominic told us? They're missing first responders, is that right?

JAMES STEFKA, ETMC EMS FOR WACO, TEXAS: Yes. First, Greta, we send out our prayer and condolences to the people of West, fire, police, and first responders. At this time they're still at the scene doing the search and rescue.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dale, you were there last night. Describe it for us.

DALE YATES, EMS FOR WACO, TEXAS: I would describe it initially as organized chaos. Initially on scene there was multiple patients. Chaotic, as most scenes are when something of this magnitude happens.

VAN SUSTEREN: James, when you look at the magnitude of this crisis, it's hard to believe that your community could possibly absorb -- you know, do the work that's necessary, but you see everybody -- everyone came in to help.

STEFKA: Exactly. It was a joint effort. We're about 15 miles from west. It's north of us. We started sending responding units. Dale was the first director on the scene. As he went to the scene and started doing the assessments for triage and treatment, we resupplied him with supplies and other personnel. Personnel were called up and we started sending them out to quickly assess the patients to get ready to transport them to the hospital.

VAN SUSTEREN: Gentlemen, I'm terribly sorry about what happened. Thank you for joining us this evening.

STEFKA: Thank you, ma'am.

YATES: Thank you.