(Updates with cause of fire being ruled undetermined, details
on possible causes)
By Lisa Maria Garza
WEST, Texas, May 16 The cause of a fire that
triggered a massive explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer plant
has been ruled undetermined, and investigators have not ruled
out the possibility that the fire was set intentionally,
authorities said on Thursday.
Robert Champion, a special agent in charge at the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that while
authorities could not rule out arson, they also could not
eliminate the plant's electrical systems and a golf cart at the
plant as potential causes.
The West Fertilizer Co facility, which supplied fertilizer
to area farmers, exploded on April 17 about 20 minutes after a
fire was reported at the plant. The blast killed 14 people and
badly damaged a residential area including an apartment
building, nursing home and school.
An investigation into the fire is continuing, State Fire
Marshal Chris Connealy said.
Most of the 14 dead were firefighters and paramedics who
responded to the initial fire. Some 200 people were injured.
The plant stored anhydrous ammonia, a liquid fertilizer, as
well as ammonium nitrate, a dry fertilizer that can ignite in
certain conditions. Ammonium nitrate was an ingredient in the
device used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
(Writing by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and