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Group: Texas plant blast loss likely exceeds $100M

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm •  Published: April 24, 2013
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Work crews were spread across the site Wednesday. Some were digging with shovels through the ruins of a building. Others were sifting through the remains of two silos, one that held corn and the other holding milo or sorghum.

A rail car that carried ammonium nitrate remained on site, covered by a tarp. Officials don't believe it was the cause of the blast.

At least two lawsuits have been filed in state district court in McLennan County, where West is located. Andrea Jones Gutierrez, a woman who lived in an apartment building severely damaged in the blast, filed suit Monday, seeking up to $1 million in damages.

Gutierrez had left her apartment after the fire began, just before the explosion, said her attorney, Randy Roberts. Her 14-year-old son was at church when the blast occurred.

"I don't have any special information or detailed information to go into depth about what went wrong, but obviously, something did go wrong, and the mere fact of an explosion of this type is evidence in and of itself of negligence," Roberts said.

Four insurance companies also sued West Fertilizer on behalf of several residents and businesses in West. Their attorney, Paul Grinke, said the lawsuit filed Friday was to ensure that his clients have access to the scene of the blast once the official investigation finishes.

"I'm not on a witch hunt for the West Fertilizer Co.," Grinke said. "We're going to go where the evidence leads us."

A spokesman for West Fertilizer declined comment on the lawsuits, saying, "Our focus remains on the fact finding."