Better And Better

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Interesting story developing.

On April 17th, a fertilizer plant blew up in West, Texas.
At least 15 people were killed, mostly first responders.
Hundreds were injured. Hundreds of homes were obliterated, destroyed, or damaged.

There were two very newsworthy types of fertilizer there at the plant: anhydrous ammonia, and ammonia nitrate.

--Anhydrous ammonia is scary stuff. It is highly reactive to oxidizers, and gives off a caustic gas. It is stored as a liquid, in tanks. It is used in the production of methamphetamine.
--Ammonia nitrate is a plastic solid, and was used in the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. It's highly explosive, but is more stable than Anhydrous.

News people cast around, talking to people who didn't know what they were talking about. I saw news stories early speculating that the firefighters had sprayed water onto reactive substances, causing the fire and explosion. I saw references to them responding to a re-kindle.

At this point, they still aren't exactly sure what caused the fire.

Blame came, as it always does. Someone HAS to be to blame.
If Texas governor Rick Perry hadn't realized that his political aspirations for the national stage were ended in 2012, I hope that he realizes now that it's over. Political cartoonists and pundits in California, Illinois, and the east coast all tore into Perry, for his recent attempts to woo investors to Texas with his quite correct claim that Texas is booming. In his radio spots, Perry cited no income tax, and less interference by regulations for Texas' success. His critics seized on this as Exhibit A in the case of why half a Texas town was blown off the face of the earth.

The truth is, that West is a hub community, in the midst of farmland. A fertilizer plant and seed company would certainly have been an economic engine there, 60 years ago. The town grew around it. These things happen.

But now, we find that BATFE[IEIO] and the Texas Rangers have an open case of Possession Of A Destructive Device against one of the paramedics who was a first responder with the West Volunteer Fire Department, and who lost friends in the blast. You can see the newsies champing at the bit to connect this with the cause of the blast. And I'll admit that it would make a helluva story. Haven't we all heard the tale of the firefighter who is a secret arsonist, and been amazed? What better story than to find out that this small-town medic wanted to be a Walter Mitty with M√ľnchausen syndrome-by-bombing?

But it's not necessarily the case. The BATFE boys are in town. The Rangers are in town. They're looking under every rock for ANY clue as to what might possibly has caused that fire. So if Mr. Reed was into making homemade firecrackers in his garage, this is not a good time for him. If he's fulfilling a lifelong dream to make his own recoiless rifle in his basement, these guys might get a bit twitchedy, and put a case together on him, out of something to do.

But time will tell.

**EDIT**
Looks like it was components for a pipe bomb which Reed had. Ruh roh.

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5 Comments:

At Friday, May 10, 2013 4:40:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Damn, just damn...

 
At Friday, May 10, 2013 7:20:00 PM, Blogger ZerCool said...

I've listened to the radio traffic from that fire. Terrifying, and a wonderfully awful example of why routine goes sideways in a hurry.

First traffic is from a patrol car, requesting fire, dispatch acknowledges and already had the call via 911.

Toned out as, "West Fire, respond to the fertilizer plant for a fire in the mill ... Again." (You can almost hear the eye-roll with it.)

And downhill from there... :(

RIP, brothers.

 
At Saturday, May 11, 2013 11:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not rejecting that he could have been planning something nefarious, but I'm not buying it either.

Firefighter in a small Texas town. It's not inconceivable that he could have had plumbing components laying around. Or it could have been an old, retired air tank from the fire station that he was taking apart for a home project. Lots of small-town folk do their own home repairs, and double as handymen. Now, if he was also a reloader, and had a supply of powder and primers nearby... Or heck, certain kitchen chemicals under the sink.

Guess what? Anyone here a reloader, or a clean-freak, with bits of pipe, pressure cooker, or something similar... You have "constructive possession" of a pipe bomb, or at least "bomb-making materials."

I don't buy it. Not yet.

 
At Saturday, May 11, 2013 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Thus far, it looks like he knew that he had a pipe bomb, and gave to someone else to hold, who turned him in.

But it's noteworthy that they're not linking the possession of the explosive devise to the fertilizer plant explosion. Consider that the fire was a rekindle, apparently.

 
At Saturday, May 18, 2013 11:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He had the makings of a pipe bomb?

Yeah, him and every hardware/farm supply store worthy of the name..... and most of their customers, as well....... as in, "Hell no, I don't make a special run to town for (fill in the blank with whatever any 1/2 way self reliant person has laying around the shop)...."


I'm not that well informed, but if you gave me a fat Federally Subsidized Budget and a target individual, I could surely make a felony case against him, given time...... 3 Felonies a day, on average, I understand .......

 

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