After the Explosion

afterexplosionmainJust after pastor Boniface Onjefu arrived home at about 8 p.m. on April 17, he felt what he thought was an earthquake. His electricity flickered. He ran outside and saw a giant pillar of black smoke, with people "crying and running. There was fear in everyone’s eyes." Some saw his clerical collar and stopped to grab his hands as he prayed.

Members of the West Church of Christ were at the last song in their monthly church sing when the building shook and the lights went out. Elder Tom Kissinger thought a truck had hit the church. They finished singing in the dark. Then the West Fertilizer Company’s owner, Donald Adair, got a call and left.

The fertilizer plant had caught fire and exploded with a blast that registered 2.1 on the Richter scale. It killed 14 people and destroyed dozens of homes. The cause is unknown.

National news media arrived to broadcast the devastation while stunned residents in the town of 2,800 began grieving for the dead they knew. Victims blocked from the blast zone wondered if they would still have homes when authorities allowed them to return. Most had family members to take them in, so shelter wasn’t a problem. People needed supplies: food, drinks, clothing, diapers, formula, medical supplies, blankets, toiletries, towels, air mattresses, pet food, toys, cleaning items.

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