BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning recently returned from West, Texas. West is the site of a fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 and injured 200 more. The blast happened April, 14th and was triggered by a fire that was reported 20 minutes earlier. Twelve of the 14 killed were first responders.
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning met with Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy at the site of the blast. "I've seen a lot of destruction and a lot of bad things that have happened in my career," says Browning. "But when I went to West, Texas to meet with the Texas Fire Marshal, I saw a community of 2,100 people, and literally, within a 10 block area of complete destruction."
Browning's mission wasn't just to see the damage, he was also on a fact finding mission. Louisiana's agricultural industry accounts for $11 billion each year. "We're right now reviewing the Louisiana Laws," says Browning. "We think around 100 facilities house Ammonium Nitrate. It's a common material used in the crop. Plus it's an important part of what Louisiana Agriculture does in its Ag mission."
Browning also says there is a clear and present difference between Texas and Louisiana laws regarding the handling of Ammonium Nitrate. In Texas counties with less than 150,000 people there are no building codes to adhere to. In Louisiana the entire state has to adhere to the correct building codes. Browning says they will inspect each facility to determine if there is a threat.