HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Houston Fire Department deployed 19 personnel as part of the Texas Task Force 1 activation for the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Tex. The members area of expertise include rescue, haz-mat, suppression, arson and airport rescue.
Rescue workers have been searching through the rubble early Thursday, looking for survivors of the blast in the small Texas town that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others. The blast left the factory a smoldering ruin and leveled homes, apartments, a nursing home and businesses for blocks in every direction.
Texas Task Force 1 functions as a federal team under FEMA’s national urban search and rescue program and as Texas’ only statewide urban search and rescue team under direction of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. They are the most active urban search and rescue team in the country, having responded to at least one major disaster each year since its first deployment in 1998.
A strike team of ambulances has also been made available through the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC), but at this time it is not anticipated that they will be needed.
The cause of the fire and the blast is not known at this time.