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Crime & Courts

Texas officials launch criminal investigation into fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14


FILE - In this May 2, 2013, file photo investigators move and look through the debris of the destroyed fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Texas law enforcement officials launched a criminal investigation Friday, May 10, 2013, into the massive explosion last month that killed 14 people. (AP Photo/LM Otero, Pool) (The Associated Press)

Texas law enforcement officials on Friday launched a criminal investigation into the massive fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people last month.

Investigators have largely treated the West Fertilizer Co. blast that killed 14 people as an industrial accident, but the Texas Department of Public Safety said in statement that the agency has now instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department to conduct a criminal probe.

"This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered," DPS Director Steven McCraw said.

The plant blew up on the night of April 17 after a fire erupted at the facility in the rural town.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said residents "must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled — they deserve nothing less."

The statement did not detail any further reasons for the criminal investigation and said no further information would be released at this time.

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