Scott Perrin, a 1981 graduate of Notre Dame High School, was in New York on business when the West Fertilizer Plant exploded five blocks from his house in West, Texas.
His three children, who were about a mile away when the explosion happened, were able to get into the house on Thursday and report that 15 windows were blown out and a white powder was everywhere, he said.
Returning home Thursday afternoon, Perrin, a private pilot, said the former bed-and-breakfast built in 1888 was not as bad off as he feared.
"It's a mess," he said. "The antique glass windows will be hard to replace."
Still, he said, "Others have it a lot worse. Lots of people were hurt so I feel lucky."
The exterior walls of the home are five bricks thick and the interior walls are brick as well. The blast blew out the attic access door and lifted a bead-board ceiling up on one of the upstairs bedrooms, he said.
Perrin said when he first spoke with his kids on Wednesday night, they described what was happening in West.
"They were using words like 'pandemonium' and 'chaos' to describe everything," Perrin said. "The whole town filled up with emergency personnel and flashing lights."
On Friday morning, he said four helicopters were flying over the blast site and that police "are not letting anybody in there and they are dead serious about it."
Perrin was able to get a friend in the roofing business to board up the windows and doors Thursday morning before a thunderstorm moved through the area.
"Now that white powder, which I don't even know what it is or if it's dangerous, is a white goo and it's everywhere," he said.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6354.