*Live Updates* Texas Plant Explosion

UPDATE (8:24 AM Central Time): Police sergeant William Swanton says in a current press conference that "there has been a small amount of looting" in West.

VIDEO: In this interview with CNN, an extremely emotional Dr. George Smith, the Medical Director of West EMS, says he assumes several first responders he works with have died performing their duty. 

Smith says 18 people involved in an EMS class went to the scene of the explosion, and he is unsure of their whereabouts. He says he would have normally gone to the scene of the fire and believes that if he had done so today, he would be dead.

VIDEO: Local news affiliate KVUE interviews a man about his harrowing experience trying to save a man trapped on an upper floor in a building whose stairways had been demolished by the explosion. "The entire east side of the nursing home is blown out," he says at the end.

UPDATE (6:40 AM Central Time): Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued a statement on the West explosion, per Talking Points Memo:

“We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident," he said in a statement. "We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.”

UPDATE (6:05 AM Central Time): The Associated Press quotes police estimating deaths from the explosion between five to fifteen people with 160 or more injured. Volunteer firefighters and a police officer are expected to be among the dead found.

PHOTO: Blown out plate glass windows lay shattered on the sidewalk and street after the West Fertilizer Company exploded on April 18, 2013 in West, Texas. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

PHOTO: Firefighters use flashlights to search a destroyed apartment complex near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

VIDEO: Plant explosion captured from a different angle:

PHOTO: The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. The deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant late on Wednesday, injuring more than 100 people, leveling dozens of homes and damaging other buildings including a school and nursing home, authorities said. REUTERS/Mike Stone

UPDATE (3:30 AM Central Time): Authorities are concerned winds may carry "toxic clouds" outside the blast area, according to the LA Times.

UPDATE (3:15 AM Central Time): A KWTX employee tweets confirmation from a press conference of the death of multiple first responders:

PHOTO: Firefighters search an area destroyed by a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

UPDATE (2:37 AM Central Time): Waco Police Sgt. William Swanton said officials can only "guess" how many have died or been injured by the explosion. Law enforcement is unsure whether the fire was accidental or arson. Swanton says that a fire near tanks of anhydrous ammonia in the plant is "under control and I don't think [another explosion is] any longer a threat." 

UPDATE (2:15 AM Central Time): An organization called Mercury One Waco has a list of local places taking donations for victims and shelters for victims and their pets.

VIDEO: AP b-roll of EMS assisting West residents.

PHOTO: AP via Instagram via photographer Andy Bartee. This shot from Wednesday evening shows the explosion's smoke rising from a distance.

PHOTO: Vehicles are seen near the remains of a fertilizer plant burning after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. The deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant late on Wednesday, injuring more than 100 people, leveling dozens of homes and damaging other buildings including a school and nursing home, authorities said. REUTERS/Mike Stone


UPDATE (1:35 AM Central Time): As reported by Breitbart News's Brandon Darby, federal agents are on scene representing ATF. Sources say volunteer firefighters attempted to douse the initial plant fire with water, which may have reacted with ammonia. The first wave of first responders is being sent home, and while fires still rage, EMS concerns over further explosions are lessening.

UPDATE (1:18 AM Central Time): The US Chemical Safety Board is headed to West. Firefighters have been not currently present at the plant because of chemical fumes, a state trooper tells reporters at a press conference. As such, utilities are shutting off gas to the entire city.

VIDEO: MSNBC has an interview with a survivor of the explosion.

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UPDATE (12:52 AM Central Time): Dr. Bradford Holland, a Waco, TX surgeon, says all patients at Hillford Baptist Medical Center in Waco have been attended to; none are awaiting for care, and none have died

UPDATE (12:38 AM Central Time): The West explosion has been recognized as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake, according to the USGS.

UPDATE (12:35 AM Central Time): CNN claims it has confirmed two deaths resulting from the explosion. 

PHOTO: Damage visible on West nursing home. All 133 residents have reportedly been safely evacuated. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

UPDATE (12:23 AM Central Time): As seen in the video of the explosion, the plant first caught fire. West mayor Tommy Muska said volunteer firemen, including himself, were on scene at the plant 30 minutes before the explosion occurred. 

According to Muska, six or seven firefighters who were in the plant at the time of the explosion have not been accounted for.

PHOTO: Firefighters attempt to extinguish a home set ablaze by the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion. Associated Press/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte

UPDATE (11:53 PM Central Time): Dispatch audio states that "there are firefighters down at this time" and describes an "explosion at fire scene."

UPDATE (11:44 PM Central Time): An Associated Press update says the blast devastated multiple blocks around the plant. The Mayor of West said "buildings in a five-block radius from the plant were severely damaged by the explosion."

UPDATE (11:40 PM Central Time): An amateur video shows the aftermath of the explosion:

UPDATE (11:27 PM Central Time): WFAA anchor Ron Corning provides this picture of an apartment building hit by the explosion:

UPDATE (11:12 PM Central Time): The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that several buildings on streets near the plant have caught on fire, including a local middle school. One building affected by the explosion was a nursing home, whose residents were evacuated to a high school football field. Some injured residents were transported to hospitals in police patrol cars.

UPDATE (10:50 PM Central Time): An observer captured video of the explosion as it happened. The photo below appears to be a screen capture from the footage:

UPDATE (10:45 PM Central Time): The EMS Director of West, TX says that anywhere from 60 to 70 people died in the explosion and hundreds have been injured, according to KWTX.com.

UPDATE: Local news affiliate FOX44 has obtained a photo that purportedly shows the moment of the explosion.

(AP) WACO, Texas
American Red Cross crews from across Texas are being sent to the site of an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco where multiple injuries have been reported.

Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says her group is working with emergency management officials in the town of West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes. She says teams from Austin to Dallas and elsewhere are being sent to the community north of Waco.

A West Fire Department dispatcher says the explosion happened Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant. She says any casualties would be taken to hospitals in Waco. It was unclear how many were injured or if any fatalities occurred.

The Department of Public Safety says troopers have been transporting the injured to hospitals.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday.

Department of Public Safety troopers were using their squad cars to transport those injured by the blast and fire at the plant in West, a community north of Waco, Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the department's Waco office, told television station KWTX. She said six helicopters were also en route to help out.

The explosion at West Fertilizer was reported shortly before 8 p.m. in a frantic call from the scene, KWTX reported.

A West Fire Department dispatcher told The Associated Press that any casualties would be transported to hospitals in Waco, which is about 90 miles north of Austin.

The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.

Brad Smith, who lives 45 miles north of West in Waxahachie, told the station that he and his wife heard what sounded like a thunderclap.

Lydia Zimmerman, told KWTX that she, her husband and daughter were in their garden in Bynum, 13 miles from West, when they heard multiple blasts.

"It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us," she said.

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