West residents starting to get back into homes - KXXV Central Texas News Now

West residents starting to get back into homes

WEST, TX (KXXV) -

After days of waiting, some families in West are seeing their homes for the first time since the devastating explosion at the fertilizer plant.

West Mayor pro tem, Steve Vanek, along with DPS officials and Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner addressed the media at City Hall Saturday afternoon.

Vanek announced what he described as "Stage 1" of the re-entry process. He also dispelled rumors about any lingering danger in the city.

"It is safe, it is safe, it is safe," Vanek assured.

The Zatopeks were just one of the eager families waiting to see their home. Royce and Virginia Zatopek were out of town when the fertilizer plant exploded just 1/2 mile away from their home. 

"[Our] home has been there since 1934, and [we] don't know what's going to happen. We might have to rebuild," said Virginia.

Car after car lined up along Reagan St. and DPS Troopers assigned numbers to each vehicle. Those permitted vehicles were then allowed past roadblocks to their homes starting at 3:00 p.m.

Only residents from Oak St. to Walnut St. were allowed back to their homes. The mayor pro tem also announced a curfew between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. along with other guidelines for residents to follow.

Vanek said only residents 18 years and older were allowed into the impacted area. No vehicle larger than a pickup truck was permitted and each residence was limited to two vehicles. Residents were reminded to stay safe in their homes and be careful of broken glass, nails and other debris. Residents were told they'd have limited access to water and electricity as well.

Residents whose homes were more significantly damaged will have to wait until next week or later before they can return.

DPS officials also confirmed Saturday that 14 people died in the explosion. Mayor pro tem Steve Vanek assured News Channel 25 that the people previously referred to as "unaccounted for" had been found. He didn't expect to see the number of deaths rise.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said the cause of the explosion at the fertilizer plant is still unknown. Kistner also said that crews were working to remove 4 tanks from the plant as a safety precaution for investigators. However, he reiterated that there was no safety threat in the city.

"There is no airborne hazard, there is no leakage out of these tanks and we don't have to worry about that being a factor going through it at this point," Kistner said.

For more information on this process you can also go to the city's web site at www.cityofwest.com or call their hotline at 254-826-7550.

City officials are also working on a memorial service for the near future.

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