The firefighters responding to last week's fire at a West, Tex., fertilizer depot knew the risky mix of fertilizer and fire. The mostly-volunteer group – farmers, city employees, dads and husbands – rushed to help anyway.
They did so, knowing their fate was tied to the mounds of ammonium nitrate stocked in a shed for spring planting.
In a deafening flash, they were gone – 10 firefighters from five departments – marking the second deadliest incident involving firefighters in Texas history and one of the worst ever in the USA.
Five of those killed were from the West Volunteer Fire Department, and at least five other firefighters were hospitalized in the Apr. 17 blast that killed 14 people overall and injured more than 200.