could west happen again?

One year after the fertilizer plant explosion, Texas remains vulnerable for another catastrophe

April 15, 2014

by Timothy Bella  

WEST, Texas — Joey Pustejovsky loved that jackalope. On Christmas 2012 he unwrapped the gag gift from his mother-in-law. His wife, Kelly, couldn’t believe what her mother did. “I was kind of embarrassed,” she said.

But Joey, an avid hunter with a sense of humor similar to his mother-in-law’s, exclaimed how excited he was to display the mythical animal — a jackrabbit with an antelope’s antlers — in their living room.

On the evening of April 17, 2013, Joey was on his way to pick up Kelly’s oldest daughter from catechism classes at St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic Church. It was another quiet Wednesday night in the Central Texas town, known for its kolache pastries and Czech heritage.

Then, shortly after 7:30 p.m., his pager for the volunteer fire department went off. Before he answered the call, he called his wife, telling her she now needed to pick up her daughter.

“He told me the fertilizer plant was supposedly on fire, and he said he was going to be home in a little bit,” she said. “He told me he loved me.”

Timothy Bella