NewsThe West Explosion: A Decade Later

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Reflecting on the media impact during the week of the 2013 West, Texas explosion

West explosion
Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 12, 2023

WEST, Texas — Media from all over the world made way to the town of West, Texas following the explosion on April 17, 2013.

"How are you doing?" asked Anderson Cooper from CNN.

"Fine except we are homeless," replied Willie Zahirniak.

Willie — known as 'Pee Wee' — was one of many who would share their story after the explosion rocked the small town first settlers arrived in the 1840's.

"I've never heard a blast like that," Zahirniak said.

It was a busy news week that started with the Boston Bombing on Monday, April 15. On April 17 when the explosion took place in West, there were two major stories in the US — a manhunt was taking place and investigators started an investigation into the explosion that rocked the small town.

Over and over it was described as a war zone with the videos of the explosion playing in a loop and video of the damage shown on television.

"I walked through the blast area, I searched some houses earlier tonight," said DPS Trooper Dean Willson.

"Massive just like Iraq, just like the building in Oklahoma City."

For the first time, many would learn about the small town where neighbor knows their neighbor and everyone is like family. ABC's overnight program, World News Now, spent hours carrying the images on television.

The town would come together and in most cases in disasters like the one in West, people would hear about shelters. The story would become that no shelter was needed because residents started to chip in and help each other out while headlines from across the country told the story.

Images in newspapers from across the country showed the blast and aftermath where hundreds of homes were damaged.

Gallery: After the explosion newspapers from across the country tell the story of West

Weeks into years, the story would continue to evolve as parts of the investigation would continue to unfold. Many media outlets would continue to come to the little town.