Nightly News   |  April 20, 2013

Officials look into Texas plant blast

Following an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, police on Friday allowed some residents to return to the blast area. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> an update on another big story , that huge explosion at a fertilizer facility in texas . the death toll remains at 14 with more than 200 people injured. gabe gutierrez now with the latest from the town of west, texas tonight.

>> reporter: today in west, texas , the agonizing drive home. three days after the explosion that changed everything. this afternoon, police allowed some residents to return to the blast area.

>> i don't know i got a house there. i don't know how it's going to be, what kind of shape it's in.

>> reporter: with 80 homes damaged or destroyed, the president has declared a state of emergency .

>> and i want them to know that they are not forgotten.

>> reporter: the death toll includes five firefighters and four emergency medics.

>> it's pretty bad. got a lot of firemen down.

>> reporter: kenny harris saw the initial flames and rushed to help.

>> he was my best friend. we -- we did everything together.

>> 96-year-old adohl lander has been inside a heavily damageded nursing home . he survived the explosion, but then his heart gave out.

>> my dad died when i was 3 months old, so he was the father figure in my life.

>> reporter: we pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened. already, some lawmakers are asking whether chemical storage regulations should be strengthened.

>> those are legitimate and appropriate questions to be asking.

>> reporter: a state filing last year shows the facility had more than 540,000 pounds of nitrate. federal officials are looking into whether that amount should have