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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

West EMS retires tattered half-staff flags after 381 days

They have symbolized hope and rebirth since the blast, and have a special place at the new EMS building built to replace the one that was destroyed

WEST, Texas — The flags tattered in last year's devastating fertilizer plant explosion have flown at half-staff since the blast; they were finally retired Saturday.

They were ripped and weathered, but the main part was there, and they have stood as a symbol of hope during the town’s rebirth, West EMS board president Kevin Walters told

“While our ends were torn, while we were grieving what we’d lost, our structure was still together,” he said.

April 17 West marked the one-year anniversary of the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people including 12 responders, injured hundreds more, and leveled nearby homes and schools.

The EMS building was destroyed by the blast, and its flags were lowered the night of the explosion. Responders have recently moved into a new building on the site, and the contractor asked that the flags stay the way they were until the project was complete.

The flags have been placed inside the new West EMS building symbolize the destruction and rebirth of the community.

“Every time you walk by and see them,” Walters said, “we know that we got through the tough times and will keep moving forward.”

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