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$1,000 reward offered for information five years after West explosion

Fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas. (Cropped Photo: kwtx / Kasey Murphy / MGN)

A Texas Advisory Council on Arson (ATAC) announced a $1,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the person or persons involved in the explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant five years ago.

On April 17, 2013, a fire broke out at the plant in West, Texas. About 20 minutes later, there was an explosion that killed 15 people, including 12 first responders.

"It knocked me back about six feet," said Tommy Muska, the mayor of West. "There's a hole there that will never be filled. I think of the families and what they've had to go through these five years and how stoic each family has been on their journey without their loved ones."

The explosion left a 12-foot crater, destroyed over 100 homes, caused extensive damage to a nearby high school, and injured 300 people.

“I can’t think of any other intentionally set fire that caused this much damage and fatalities in recent history,” said Mark Hanna of the Texas Advisory Council on Arson.

Investigators say the fire was intentionally set. Five years later, no one has ever been arrested and charged with setting fire to the fertilizer plant.

Continuing the investigation, ATAC will offer $1,000 reward "to anyone whose phone call leads to the arrest of the person or persons involved with starting the fire."

Tim Oates, ATAC chairman and Coppell Fire Marshal, said on a press release, “Someone knows who started this fire and we need to put this horrible event behind us, one phone call to the Texas Arson Hotline could do it."

Since the blast, the high school, city and streets and many homes have been rebuilt. The city park was partially funded by the young surviving son of one of the firefighters. Another memorial is slated to open later this year.

"They did what they love to do, help people. So their loss is not in vain," said Muska.

Those with information are asked to call 1-800-4 FIRE 45 (1-800-434-7345). Other awards have been offered by ATF and McClennan County.

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