At approximately 7:30pm on April 17, 2013, the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas caught fire. No more than 20 minutes later, as local firefighters worked to control the flames, ammonium nitrate inside the building exploded, triggering a blast that registered as a 2.1 magnitude tremor that was detected on seismographs nearly 150 miles away.
In addition to decimating the facility, over 150 nearby homes, businesses, and even a middle school were extensively damaged. Fifteen people lost their lives that day and a further 160 were injured. Among those killed in the explosion were 12 emergency personnel, primarily those with the West Volunteer Fire Department who responded to the initial call.