First close-up look at epicenter of West damage

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by WALT ZWIRKO

WFAA

Posted on April 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 14 at 8:02 PM

We've seen the damage from the air countless times since last Wednesday's massive explosion in the Central Texas town of West.

On Sunday, reporters and photographers got their first close-up look at the hardest-hit area adjacent to the West Fertilizer Company plant that exploded in a fire, killing 14 people and injuring more than 200 others.

Late Sunday afternoon, city officials let residents enter the second of three zones that suffered damage in the blast, from Walnut Street north to Spring Street.

The zone north of Spring Street closest to the epicenter of the explosion remains off-limits.

The pictures from that hardest-hit area primarily show a two-story apartment building across the street from the plant that was ripped apart by the powerful blast. The roof was blown off and the sides of the building were ripped away by the shock wave.

A car's windshield is pierced by a large sheet of plywood that ended up almost entirely in the vehicle.

Electrical conduits, pipes, insulation, and furniture litter the area around the apartment building. A crib can barely be identified, lying on its side amidst a pile of rubble.

And yet, here on the grass nearby is a guitar in its case; there is a heavily-used basketball on the ground with the word "Texas" written on it with a marker.

Officials organized the visit for a small "pool" group of reporters. They did not let journalists see what was happening at the fertilizer plant site, although four heavily damaged metal structures were visible from nearby.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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