• U.S. Chemical Safety Board headed to West to investigate explosion

    Jean Gonsoulin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, told The Daily Texan that a team of investigators would arrive to investigate the West Fertilizer Co. explosion at approximately 2:30 p.m. CST on Thursday. 

    The board is the national organization that investigates the cause of chemical incidents. 

    “The Chemical Saftey Board is aware of the incident and is deploying an investigative team this afternoon. Once we have more information we will have additional statements,” Gonsoulin said. 

    Gonsoulin said investigators will arrive from across the country but do not yet know where they will congregate because West has been evacuated.

  • Melany Jean, UT student from West: "Such a great town."

    Emergency workers evacuate elderly from a damaged nursing home following an explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday.
    Emergency workers evacuate elderly from a damaged nursing home following an explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday.

    Melany Jean, an anthropology and art history junior from West, said she felt helpless and shocked when she heard the news of an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, a city about 20 miles north of Waco.

    Jean, who went to West High School, said her parents moved closer to Waco earlier this year, but her good friends and grandparents still live in town — and that she was able to contact them through social media.

    “I heard from my immediate friends, mostly because we’ve all been checking up on each other through social medial, twitter, etc..” Jean said. “So far, everyone has been fine, but it’s going to be an incredibly heavy blow. We’re a small community.”

    Jean said she has faith in the resilience of her community.

    “It’s a really small town, with a lot of people, and everyone is either family or feels like family,” Jean said. “I think the people who aren’t as affected will step up, quickly, for the people who are. It’s such a great town.”

    Jean said the fertilizer plant, which is located in a residential area, has never been a cause for concern in the West community before.

    “I’ve never heard anyone say they felt unsafe about it, ever,” Jean said. “Honestly, I’ve never even thought about it.” 

  • Journalism junior Jennifer Berke: "I'm glad my dad is ok"

    Journalism junior Jennifer Berke's dad ran the Boston Marathon this morning:

    “Thank goodness [my dad is] fine. He finished the race two or three hours before the bombs went off. He said a lot of things happening tonight were cancelled in the city. He was supposed to fly back to Texas tomorrow, and we’re just trying to figure out if he’s going to be able to. I was scared out of my mind and I’m glad my dad is ok.“

  • UTPD says University remains on heightened alert

    According to UTPD dispatch, the University remains on heightened alert following last week's bomb threat.

    At this time, UTPD has no reason to believe the situation in Boston is in any way related to the bomb threat. They are "keeping abreast" of the situation and will continue to monitor any developments. 

    On Wednesday last week, the University announced a non-specific bomb threat would result in an increased police presence on campus. The FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Department of Public Safety and the Austin Police Department were brought to campus to investigate the bomb threat. Then, on Friday, UTPD said in a campus wide email they feel “comfortable ... returning to normal operations at this time.”

    Any suspicious activity should be reported to UTPD at 512-471-4441.  

  • Steven Moore, project manager in chemistry department: "Fun day of joyous unison until..."

    Steven Moore, project manager in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, had finished the race and was about five blocks away when he heard the explosion:

    "I had finished the race about 1:15 or so before the explosions. My wife and I had some food and drinks and stepped out onto the street a few minutes after it happened. About 5 blocks away. Mayhem. It took us a few minutes to understand what was going on. We had already planned on walking back to our hotel and got within a few blocks of the bombings on our way. Many sullen faces and expressions of shock and anger in the crowds. Such a fun day of joyous unison until an evil coward shows their insanity."

    Moore finished the race in 2:49:24.

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