WEST, Texas (AP) — Before an earth-shaking explosion at a fertilizer plant shattered the town, this community just outside Waco was known as the "Czech Heritage Capital of Texas."
A band of accordion players would often regale nursing home residents with polka-heavy favorites. A Czech dance was scheduled this weekend at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
The accident late Wednesday at the West Fertilizer Co. thrust tiny West, population 2,800, into the national spotlight. An unknown number of people were dead. More than 160 were hurt.
Founded in 1882, West was a booming railroad town that attracted a disproportionate number of German and Czech immigrants attracted by its fertile farmland. The Czech influence remains so strong that among those visiting the devastation Thursday was Petr Gandalovic, the Czech Republic's ambassador to the U.S.
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