Is this Texas mushroom cloud photo real? Yes, but it's from 2008.
This Mushroom Cloud Is Not From the Fertilizer-Plant Explosion
Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 18 2013 10:17 AM

This Mushroom Cloud Is Not From the Fertilizer-Plant Explosion

Not the right mushroom cloud
This widely-circulated photo is actually from a refinery explosion in 2008.

Screenshot / Twitter

The image above, widely circulated on social media after Wednesday night's explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, is actually from an oil refinery explosion that happened in 2008. The confusion is understandable: The oil refinery explosion was in West Texas—not the town of West, Texas.

Another reason the confusion is understandable: Wednesday night's blast produced a pretty big cloud of its own. One of the clearest photos of it came from Instagram user Andy Bartee. His caption: "Stopped in to get gas on my drive back from Austin to Dallas and a huge blast rocked the entire foundation of this place! A little scary... ."


Again, the photo below appears to be genuine.

Instagram Czech stop photo
This one appears to be genuine.

Andy Bartee / Instagram (republished with permission)

The Slatest has more on the blast.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at or follow him on Twitter.

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