Obama to attend memorial service for victims of Texas explosion

Holly Bailey
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WACO, Texas—President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend a memorial service Thursday for victims of last Wednesday’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

The service is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. CT at Baylor University in Waco. A city official in West said the president is also expected to visit the site of the blast.

The Obamas were already scheduled to be in Dallas for the opening of former President George W. Bush’s presidential library Thursday morning. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday the first couple will fly to West after the library opening to meet with victims of last week’s explosion, which killed 14 people and injured more than 200.

The announcement came as investigators continued to probe the cause of the fire and subsequent explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. Kelly Kistner, an assistant state fire marshal, said at a briefing on Sunday that more than 70 state and federal officials were combing through the site looking for clues into what sparked the blaze. The blast, he said, left behind a massive crater on the site where the plant once stood.

On Monday, nearly 800 public school students displaced by the blast returned to class—some in makeshift classrooms set up in neighboring towns. West's middle school and high school were heavily damaged in the last week's explosion, and school officials have not said when the damaged schools might reopen.

At the same time, hundreds of displaced residents continued to return to their homes to assess damage in the aftermath of the explosion. The city has roped off a five-block area of town around the plant site, where dozens of homes, a nursing home and an apartment building were leveled in the explosion. While some residents living in an area farther away from the plant have been allowed to stay in their homes if they choose, power remains out in that part of the city.