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Fort Hood Crews Respond to Fertilizer Plant Blast

A fire still burns in a apartment complex destroyed near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo taken early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013.

A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, on Wednesday injured dozens of people and killed an unknown number of others, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and leveling buildings for blocks in every direction.

Local authorities requested three vehicles and crews from the Fort Hood fire department to help with the search and rescue of victims in collapsed houses and a nursing home, a Fort Hood official said.

The explosion at West Fertilizer in West, Texas, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened shortly before 8 p.m. It sent flames shooting high into the night sky, and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.

Although authorities said it will be some time before they know the full extent of the loss of life, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman D.L. Wilson said just after midnight that an unknown number of people had died.

Fort Hood is located 50 miles south of West, Texas, and about an hour-long drive. No soldiers or other military personnel stationed at Fort Hood were known to be injured or killed in the explosion as of late Wednesday night, said Tom Rheinlander, a Fort Hood spokesman.

Bell County Fire Department officials requested the Fort Hood fire crews soon after the explosion as part of a mutual aid support agreement. Emergency response units from across the state were called to respond to West following the massive blast that was felt as far away as Oklahoma.

“No other assets have been or are expected to be requested,” Rheinlander said.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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