Massive explosion at fertilizer plant rocks small Texas town

Fertilizer plant explosion near Waco, Texas/Courtesy: WFAA

ABC News is reporting that 14 people are confirmed dead. 200 people were injured. 50 homes were destroyed. 25 homes have yet to be cleared.

Officials say it'll be some time before they know how many people have been killed in a fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, Texas.

Sgt. Swanton with the Waco Police Department estimates 3 to 5 firefighters are missing.

The CBS station in Dallas-Fort Worth is reporting that two EMS workers, 6 firefighters and one resident are among those killed in the explosion.

At a news conference, officials said probably more than 200 people were injured. A dispatcher with the West, Texas, Fire Department says any casualties would be taken to hospitals in Waco.

The massive explosion Wednesday night sent flames shooting into the sky and could be heard as far as 45 miles away.

A member of the city council, Al Vanek, says a four-block area was "totally decimated."

Some firefighters who had been battling the fire before the explosion are now unaccounted for.

The mayor of the town of West says up to six volunteer firefighters were at the scene when the explosion happened.

Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said officials on the ground remain in "search and rescue mode," going building to building in the largely decimated neighborhood surrounding the plant.

Swanton says a thunderstorm that rolled through the area early Thursday has helped in some ways, including tamping down chemicals released from the plant.

Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety in Waco, told television station KWTX that DPS troopers had been transporting the injured to hospitals in their patrol cars. She says six helicopters were also en route.

KWTX reports that the explosion at West Fertilizer was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic call from the scene.

Click here for coverage from our ABC affiliate WFAA.

American Red Cross crews from across Texas are being sent to the site.

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.