ATF: West fertilizer plant explosion was incendiary, $50K offered for information

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms announced Wednesday that the April 17, 2013, explosion at a fertilizer plant in the city of West, Texas, was incendiary, meaning it was not accidental or natural, but arson.

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Rob Elder, Houston Field Division, announced the bureau’s findings in a press conference Wednesday.

“The fire has been ruled as incendiary.” Elder said. “This means this was a criminal act.”

Fifteen people were killed in the explosion, 12 of those were first responders who were called to the location for a fire. Elder said the point of origin for the fire was the West Fertilizer Company’s seed building. More than 160 injuries were reported and more than 150 homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed in the blast.

After more than two years of thorough investigation, more than 400 witness interviews that “created many leads”, review of records and video evidence, at a cost of more than $2 million, the ATF is now asking for the public’s help in finding the person or persons responsible for the act.

No suspects have been named in the investigation, that Elder said remains ongoing.

Waco and McClendon County CrimeStoppers are offering an additional $2,000 for information leading to the capture of the suspect(s).

Elder asked that anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) in the West explosion, call 254-753-HELP or go to to submit a tip. All tips, he said, will be forwarded to the ATF for investigation.