The deadly explosion in the town of West, Texas is bringing back memories of a blast in Lenoir County a decade ago. The West Pharmaceutical plant in Kinston exploded in January 2003, killing six people and injured nearly 40.
Roger Dail, director of Lenoir County emergency services, said hearing about the explosion in Texas hits close to home.
“Certainly, our hearts and prayers go to that community,” Dail said. “We’ve been [to] that route. The same thing happened to us.”
Dail was one of the first to respond to the Kinston explosion in 2003. He said he still remembers the images of black smoke over the horizon.
“That’s something that you don’t forget," he said.
The blast was felt as far as 15 miles away. It was enough to smash windows at Arendell Parrott Academy, a few miles away from the plant.
“We’re close to the airport and we really thought that an airplane had crashed,” said Hugh Pollock, assistant headmaster at the school. “It scares you to death because first and foremost, you want your kids to be safe when they come to school."
Parrott Academy was evacuated. Hugh said some students had minor cuts from the glass.
The final investigative report revealed the explosion was caused by dust particles.
Changes have been made to the area to help prevent a similar accident in the future, including new building and fire codes.