WEST, Texas (AP) — Officials and family members have identified four more first responders who died in last week's deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion that also left hundreds of people without homes.
At least 14 people died in Wednesday's explosion at the plant in the Texas town of West. West Mayor Tommy Muska has said that 10 of the 14 who died were first responders.
On Sunday, professional organizations and family and friends identified four more of the first responders who died: brothers Doug and Robert Snokhous, who were both firefighters with the West Volunteer Fire Department; Jerry Chapman, a firefighter with the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department; and Kevin Sanders, who worked with West EMS and another area volunteer fire department.
One school campus was obliterated, and on the eve of 1,500 students returning to class for the first time since Wednesday's blast, Superintendent Marty Crawford said the high school and middle school could also be razed.
The first day of school is under way, where students up to sixth grade were dropped off Monday morning at West Elementary School -- just outside the immediate blast zone. Some classes were to be held in trailers behind the building.
Middle- and high-school students were bused to a nearby school district, which turned its old, vacant intermediate school building into a temporary high school. Volunteers and staff spent three days painting, cleaning and filling the classrooms with supplies.
West Assistant Superintendent Jan Hungate said some teachers at work Monday had not yet been home.
Parents and students said they were just hoping for things to return to normal.
Nearly 70 federal and state investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire that set off the explosion, Kirstner said. Authorities say there are no signs of criminal intent.
Robert Champion, the special agent in charge for the Dallas office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said experts plan to enter the crater in the next few days and start digging in search of an explanation.
"It's a slow process, but we're getting there," Champion said.
Slow is the normal way of life in West. But the last several days for many of its 2,800 residents have melded into an anguishing and frustrating stretch of wait-and-hear — whether about the safety of family and friends, or the fate of their homes.
Six firefighters and four emergency medics were among the dead, and city officials announced that a memorial service would be held Thursday at Baylor University.
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