UPDATES: 10 First Responders among dead; DPS spokes: 'Devastation like Iraq, OK City'; Video, Photos of explosion
MORE: West Fertilizer Co. had self-reported to EPA, local safety officials: 'No risk of fire or explosion at plant'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2013, 7:33pm PT  

UPDATE 4/18/2013, 5:41pm PT: AP reports West, TX mayor says "around 35 people, including 10 first responders" were killed in the explosion. "He said not all the bodies have been recovered. Muska told the LA Times the number might be as high as 40 dead and said he got that number because all other residents and first-responders were identified."

UPDATE 4/18/13 3:23am PT: Waco's KWTX has revised their earlier report of "as many as 60 or 70" dead, which was sourced to the town's EMS Director Dr. George Smith. They now report a death toll of "five to fifteen people", as of 4:45am local time, sourced to "officials". AP confirms the report of "between five and 15 people" killed, a number which is expected to rise, according to Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton. They add that "more than 160 others" are injured. Among the dead are believed to be "A group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. about an hour before the blast. They remained unaccounted for early Thursday morning."

* * *

UPDATE 10:30pm PT: Randy Lee Loftis at Dallas Morning News reports...

The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show.

West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.

But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.

The second worst possibility projected was a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, again causing no injuries.

Loftis adds via Twitter: "OSHA online records show no federal inspections of #West Fertilizer Co. in the past 5 yrs."

UPDATE 10:10pm PT: Texas Dept. of Public Safety spokesperson holds short press conference: "Tremendous amount of injuries...There are confirmed fatalities. Number not confirmed yet ... Devastation like Iraq or Oklahoma City ... 50-75 houses and apartments destroyed... Nursing home w/ 130 residents was in path of fire ... Wish I could tell you more." A reporter asks for a death toll number, asks the spokesman to "confirm 60-70" number. He says he "cannot confirm that number."

UPDATE 9:44pm PT: Dallas NBC affiliates live coverage cannot confirm death toll reported by Waco's KWTX below, but says 200+ injured, "at least 40 critically" at this moment.

UPDATE 8:59pm PT: Really hoping local media has it wrong... Waco's KWTX is now reporting: "West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people died and hundreds were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West."

KHOU 11 News Houston is reporting "5 firefighters & 1 police officer" among the dead. They add: "Hundreds of others are wounded in the town with a population of about 2,800."

Amazing video of blast added to top: [More UPDATES at bottom of article]...

UPDATE 9:15pm PT:

* * *

EARLIER...

Like we needed more news today...fake or otherwise. Unfortunately (see photos and seismograph chart below), this one is not fake. From Reuters tonight...

WACO (April 17, 2013)—Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded Wednesday night after a major explosion at a burning fertilizer plant in West north of Waco.

West firefighters were dispatched to the plant earlier in the evening after an earlier fire rekindled.
...
Numerous injuries were reported and multiple ambulances were requested.

Several buildings were reported destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.

There were reports that people were trapped in the nursing home and in an apartment building.

Scanner traffic indicated that some residents of both the nursing home and apartment building were severely injured.

Children are among the victims, according to reports from the scene.
...
Fire crews from virtually every community in the area headed to the scene.
...
A woman who was passing through West on Interstate 35 at the time of the explosion said she and her boyfriend saw a fireball 100-feet wide shoot into the air.
...
Gulf war veteran Paul L. Manigrasso felt the blast in Waxahachie.

“Based on my Naval experience...we knew immediately what it was, but cannot believe it occurred 40 miles away,” he said.

The photos tweeted below are pretty amazing. [ALSO UPDATES NOW ADDED]...

* * *

UPDATE 8:07pm PT: Short video of the fire after the explosion: "Within four blocks of the plant itself...everyone of those homes have been torn apart"...

UPDATE 8:18pm PT: Waco's KWTX now reporting 5 people dead, at least 60 being treated at local hospitals, crews pulled back for fear of second explosion.