At least five people are dead after an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. Police say the blast destroyed 75 homes, a 50-unit apartment complex, a middle school and a nursing home. More than 160 people are injured as the search for victims continues.
Those who deal with fertilizer and other hazardous chemicals must file what's called a Tier 2 report with emergency management under EPA regulations. That information is also shared with local fire departments.
In Columbus, Kansas the Farmers Coop doesn't deal with ammonia nitrate or anhydrous ammonia but it does take safety seriously. They say they keep fertilizers on one end of its property and diesel fuels a quarter mile away.
The Columbus Fire Department has been given tours of the facility, and fire fighters say that information is critical for their safety as well as the community's.
"When we look at a plan, do inspections, we want to know what type of materials we have how much we have - we want to know where it's at," says Captain Steven Burton of the Columbus Fire Department. "Then we want to know the what if's. What if it catches fire? What if it leaks, where is the wind going to take it? The drain systems through our community?"
Burton says the fire department has foam reserves on two tankers and also special nozzles which can be adapted to spray foam, but extremely hazardous chemical fire can be simply left to burn themselves out if there's a danger of explosion.