Wednesday, May 11, 2016

 

West, Texas fertilizer fire intentionally set, ATF says

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Wednesday afternoon that the 2013 fire at the West Fertilizer Company was intentionally set.

Robert Elder with the ATF said the fire was incendiary and a "criminal act."

The ATF met with some of the families of people who died when ammonium nitrate exploded and killed 15 people.

At a Wednesday news conference, Special Agent In Charge of the Houston Field Division, Rob Elder, declined to say what substance started the fire saying he wanted to be able to verify the validity of any potential witnesses or people who come forward claiming to have information.

No one has been arrested. Channel 2 Investigates has learned that federal investigators do feel they are on the right path to identifying those responsible.

A grand jury has subpoenaed people in the criminal investigation, Channel 2 Investigates has confirmed.

The ATF announced a $50,000 reward for anyone who has information about the fire.

The ATF has been investigating for more than three years and recently completed its final cause and origin report. The full report will not be released because the investigation is still ongoing, Elder told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jace Larson.

Ten first responders and two volunteers died while fighting the initial fire, which was reported 18 minutes before the explosion.

The explosion registered as a small earthquake, sent debris flying more than a mile away and left a 93-foot-wide crater at the site of a fertilizer storage building on the site.

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