By NOMAAN MERCHANT and EMILY SCHMALL
WEST, Texas (AP) - Residents of West are honoring the past but looking ahead on the one-year anniversary of a fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people.
A fire at the West Fertilizer Company triggered a blast so powerful that it leveled nearby homes and schools. Among those killed were 12 volunteer firefighters and other responders trying to help protect families and elderly residents living nearby.
There are signs of recovery, including dozens of new homes. But residents know they have a long way to go.
Thursday's ceremony will include a moment of silence at 7:51 p.m., the time of the 2013 explosion.
John Crowder, senior pastor at West's First Baptist Church, says organizers want to honor the past but make clear that "greater things are yet to come."
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At 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 17th, a panel discussion featuring some of the key community leaders in West, including Mayor Tommy Muska, will be held at the West Community Center.
At 7:15 p.m., "West 4-17 Forever Forward" will be held at the West Fair and Rodeo Grounds. A moment of silence will be held at 7:51 p.m., marking the minute the plant exploded one year ago.