West, Texas church holds service in hayfield after fertilizer plant explosion blocks building access

Pastor stood on flatbed

WEST, Texas - A church in West, Texas held a Sunday worship service in a hayfield after Wednesday's fertilizer plant explosion blocked off access to the building.

Families and firefighters in tiny West packed church services on the first Sunday since the West Fertilizer Co. exploded in a giant fireball this week.

First Baptist Church remains in a barricaded area where the damage and rubble are most pronounced. So Pastor John Crowder set up folding chairs in a field and delivered his sermon from the flatbed of an 18-wheeler.

Authorities say they still don't know what caused Wednesday night's blast.

Tommy Muska, the mayor of West, Texas, told USA Today that around 35 people, including 10 first responders, died in the blast.

Muska told the newspaper on Thursday that five of the 10 first responders were members of the town's volunteer fire department.

Muska told the Los Angeles Times the number might be as high as 40 dead and said he got that number  because all other residents and first-responders were identified.

"It's just a tragic, tragic incident," Muska said. "I ask for your prayers."