The tiny Texas town of West continues to struggle to come to terms with the Wednesday fire and explosion at a local fertilizer plant. According to the Associated Press, recovery workers have now pulled 14 bodies from the wreckage, ten of whom were first responders who had rushed to the scene of the fire.
William Ray “Buck” Uptmor, 45, wasn’t a firefighter, but he hastened to the scene because he’d heard that there were horses on a plot of land adjacent to the plant that needed to be led to safety.
“He went to help a friend,” Joyce Marek, Uptmor’s aunt, told the Associated Press. “And then it blew.”
“He was everybody’s friend,” said Marek. “If anybody needed anything they went to Buck. If it was, ‘My truck is stuck in the ditch,’ call Buck. He’ll pull us out.”
The little town of 2,800 people is trying to cope as best it can. Businesses are reopening, some of them in spite of lingering damage from the blast.
Donations of clothing and household items are piling up at local hotels and other donor centers. Texas politicians Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) have both called upon the federal government to rush aid to the area in spite of both men’s avowed devotion to the idea of “small government.”
Watch AP video about this story, which aired Friday, April 20 and is embedded below: