Could Baton Rouge handle explosion similar to West, Texas?

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 160 people are injured and as many as 15 are believed dead, after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Rescue crews are on a delicate search and rescue effort. The question today for Baton Rouge, are we prepared?

"The things we saw on TV, thing in Boston...its tragedy," Assistant State Fire Marshal Dan Wallis said. Images from this week have Wallis ready to offer his help. "It really hurts. Every time you hear it really hurts."

Wallis is a retired fire chief and though he never lost a man, his thoughts are on the missing firefighters in West, Texas. The first responders, who are volunteers, have not been found.

"Having been a volunteer firefighter and knowing every time you walk out of that door, you don't know whether you're coming back or not," Wallis said.

Baton Rouge has dealt with its share of massive explosions. There was the Exxon explosion on Christmas Eve in 1989 and on a lesser scale, there was the chemical plant explosion in 2012 in West Baton Rouge Parish.

Whether by railway or river, chemicals are moved in and around the metro area daily.

"Large urban areas of the state are recognized even on federal level for their risk potential," said Kevin Davis, Director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He says both New Orleans and Baton Rouge are two areas of concern.

While Davis admits some events cannot be prevented, but with safety precautions in place at area plants and frequent training he says there is a reduction in risk.

For Wallis, he knows if something did happen here the responders in Louisiana would not hesitate to help. He says they do not think twice to run in to a situation, when others are running out.