West residents allowed to return to homes

Officials dispel rumors of another potential explosion


WEST, Texas - For the first time since Wednesday's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant, residents in West were allowed to return to their homes Saturday.

Families living between Walnut Street and Oak Street, an area approximately a mile wide, were given access to their homes beginning at 3 p.m.

Only vehicles no larger than a pick-up truck were allowed into the impact zone, a 5-block radius around the fertilizer plant.

Law enforcement officers marked each vehicle as they entered the damaged area.

"Please be patient and cooperative with all law enforcement officers,” said West City Council member Steve Vanek in an afternoon press conference. "We are going through a tough time here and we are working diligently to get everybody back in their homes."

During the press conference Vanek quickly dispelled rumors that the plant could once again explode.

Tanks damaged in the explosion leaked gas causing several small fires. The fires were contained, minimizing the risk of another explosion.

"Everything is safe," Vanek said. "Any rumors that you have heard today, forget about it. Everything is safe, safe, and safe."

Officials have also implemented a curfew in the impact zone from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Returning residents were told they could either stay inside or leave the impact zone.

"There will be no walking around," said Vanek. "If you want to stay at your house at your own risk you can stay there, but you can't be going to your neighbors."

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