Erick Perez was playing basketball at a nearby middle school yesterday evening when a fire started at the plant. He says he and his friends thought nothing of it, but then the smoke changed color. He says the blast threw him, his nephew and others to the ground, and showered the area with hot embers and debris.
Julie Zahirniako had been with her son at the school playground. She says the explosion threw her son four feet in the air, breaking his ribs.
She says she saw people running from a nearby nursing home, and that the roof of the school lifted into the sky.
The nursing home was also badly damaged. One man who arrived there before the first responders says he and his wife found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms, amid dark hallways and ceilings that had collapsed.
Source: Associated Press