Debbie Keel was a newborn in 1959 when her father carried her into the red brick house at Sycamore and Davis where she would spend her childhood. About four years later, a fertilizer plant was built about two blocks away, across the railroad tracks.
Last week, Keel watched an excavator tear down what was left of her childhood home and lift the remnants into a large trash container. Painful as that was, the destruction was for the best, she said.
“If it was just gone, we could move on,” said Keel, who now lives two doors down Davis. Her home, like so many on the surrounding blocks, sits battered from the April 17 blast at the West Fertilizer Co.
Moving on, and tearing down, is a common theme in West these days, as the community remembers, rebounds and rebuilds what the fertilizer plant explosion destroyed. The explosion killed 15 people and injured 200.