A fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded around an hour ago. It's a small town just off Interstate 35 about 20-30 minutes north of Waco. I drive through there every time I visit my parents in Dallas. The photo in this article from Dallas' WFAA Channel 8 shows a tiny corner of The Czech Stop, well-known to central and north Texans.
Czech Stop is a bakery and gas station where I stop every time I go back home. They're known for their kolaches, a Czech import to texas where meats and chesses and various other fillings are baked inside a yeast roll.
NBC News has another, closer angle.
This is literally a close-to-home thing for me. I've interacted with the people of that town, driven past countless times, and I believe in preserving small town Texas culture. Contrary to mis-reporting all over social media (my trigger finger included), the majority of the city was not "leveled" (see update), but the shockwave was felt as far north as Arlington, which is about an hour away. The destruction as reported so far, however, is pretty significant for a town as small as West.
I fear that in the coming weeks, a lot of I-35 travelers will stop in at Czech Stop (like I do), and either not know or remember that this happened. I hope, however, that people stop, think, and ask these people how they're holding up, and tell them that people are thinking of them. That's what I plan to do. As a society, we don't do things like that as much as we used to.
I've been off gluten for a long while, but in addition to a coffee, I plan to grab a couple of sausage, cheese and sauerkraut kolaches the next time I'm through.
The Waco Tribune reports the blast flattened four blocks surrounding the plant. Jesus. The entire city is being evacuated, and they need all the help they can get.