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House Committee Checks In On West Explosion Investigation

Ryan Poppe
TPR News

The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety heard from the chief investigators of the explosion at the West fertilizer plant this morning at the state capitol.

Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, told lawmakers that the state uses an EPA law that places the responsibility for responding to emergency at the local level.

"Since 1975 Texas has been doing the same thing that the act required in '86 - support local emergency plans to disasters and make sure local governments have the public information about what’s in their community. And the things we need to tell people is: 'Go talk to your fire chief, go talk to your mayor, or go talk to your county judge.' They are going to know more about what’s going on in the your local community than anybody will at the state or federal level," Kidd said.

Looking at the total response and aftermath, Kidd said that the system worked. 

Assistant State Fire Marshal Kellie Kistner said they have eliminated a host of possibilities for the explosion at the plant in West and are now focusing on one component.

"We need to figure out what caused the fire, so that we can then see how that led to the explosion. We have to work through that timeline, so yes there is a lot of interests on the fire because that is going to be the piece that helps to put everything else together," Kistner said.

Unlike initial reports, Kistner said the local volunteer fire department didn’t do anything improper and also said there is the chance that the state may never know what caused the fire. 

As far as inspections go, no state agency other than the Office of the Texas State Chemist had annual inspections of the facility.

Investigators indicated that they will have a cause and complete their investigation by May 10.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.