The apartment complex Skidmore native Andrea Jones and her son called home was located just behind the plant and was one of the hardest hit structures.
Jones was standing behind the complex, just barely about 200 feet from the blaze.
“I was taking pictures of the fire to send to my dad and tell him I was about to evacuate because the wind was blowing hard, and I was thinking the apartment complex might get caught on fire,” Jones recalled, her voice still audibly shaken by the event.
Her son, who was across town at a church youth group meeting, was a safe enough distance away when the plant exploded, nearly leveling the apartment complex.
“I was about to go in the house to get my keys and go and pick up my son from church and as soon as I got in front of my house I heard the explosion.
“My ears starting ringing, and I started running like crazy. People were running out; there were bloody children across the street from the nursing home.
“It was like a war zone.”
Jones ran to the street where a stranger told her to jump into her truck and took the frantic Jones to retrieve her son.
Jones’ father had already reserved them a room at a local hotel to rest and gather their thoughts.
The complex has been seen on the news constantly, as it was extremely close to the explosion.
A local eyewitness said it was just basically a skeleton of a structure that stood after the blast.
“I got a few cuts and bruises,” Jones said.
“I know I’m lucky. I’m pretty mentally traumatized right now. I haven’t seen medical care, but I’m fixing to go get some.
“It’s just been hard to get down there right now.”
Jones had many friends at the apartment complex and is still very concerned about their whereabouts.
“I’m not sure if they made it out. I know a lot of them did, but I just don’t know.”
While the number of those injured, missing or dead keeps rising with each passing hour, Jones is unsure of what the next step may be.
“I’m fixing to go to the community center to the trauma center and get signed up with Red Cross.
“Then I may just go home to Skidmore with my dad for a few days.”
Emergency crews were still searching for both survivors and those killed.
The hardest hit area was her apartment complex.
“It ranges from broken windows to complete devastation,” Waco Police Department Sgt. William Swanton said at a news conference Thursday. “There are homes that are no longer homes.”
The number killed could be anywhere from five to 15.
“I don’t have a number of how many they have rescued or how many potential bodies they have found,” he said during that press conference.
No official cause of the explosion has been released as emergency personnel are concentrating on finding survivors.
Before heading to receive care for her wounds, Jones commented, “I just want my friends and family in Beeville to know we’re OK.”
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.