WEST, Texas (KXAN) - Why would you run into an explosion? That is the question Billy and Steffanie Burch have fielded most since last Wednesday's tragedy in West.
"It wasn't something you think about at the time," Steffanie said. "You just do what you have to do."
Married 20 years, the couple moved to West last fall with their 16-year-old son.
"He was supposed to be with friends at the basketball court right next to the fertilizer plant," she said. "He told us he had a headache, so he stayed home. I'm so thankful he did."
The family was sitting in its living room four miles from the plant when they felt the blast. Without hesitation, they hopped in the car and drove straight for the mushroom cloud rising over their town.
"We got to the nursing home right down the street from the plant and stopped," Billy said. "People were running from the building bleeding. I told my son to leave, because he didn't need to see that. So that's when our training took over."
Billy was in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years. Steffanie was in the Air force for 17 years and had nine tours of duty under her belt – the last five years of which were as a nurse.
"Our training really paid off," Billy said. "I was just going room to room, carrying people out. You had wires hanging down. There were light fixtures, some that were still hanging. There was no ceiling. You could hear water leaking in already. You could hear the screams from patients trying to get out."
They rescued 16 people before emergency crews arrived. Some were buried under piles of sheet rock, but they all survived – unlike others closer to the plant.
"Those people that have lost loved ones, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now," he said. "I would hate to think that my son was there when that happened, because he would've been one of the ones that might be unaccounted for or deceased. That would have been, that would have been one of hardest things to lose one of my children."
While their house was not damaged, the Burches lost their last home to a fire before they moved from North Carolina. They know what the community of West will face but also that it will eventually get better.
"You just hope for the best at all times," Billy said.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.