WEST — A Navarro County fire fighter has been confirmed as one of those killed in a fertilizer explosion plant Wednesday in West, according to emergency responders and family members.
Perry Calvin, 37, who has served on the Navarro Mills Volunteer Fire Department since 1996, and has been on the Mertens Volunteer Fire Department since 2012, was reported missing Thursday morning. His pickup was found at the scene. His partner in the EMT training class Calvin was attending in West, who also responded to the blast, has also been reported as a fatality in the explosion.
The West Fertilizer Company caught fire Wednesday evening and an explosion shook the city just before 8 p.m., leveling the plant and surrounding neighborhood. As many as 160 people are injured, and 15 are either dead or missing, including Calvin.
Calvin is a resident of Emmett, and is married to Becky Calvin. They have two sons, aged 5 and 9, and another child due around Thanksgiving. He did not have any life insurance.
Calvin worked as a rancher, carpenter, welder and mechanic, but was in training to become an Emergency Medical Technician, which is why he was training with the West Ambulance service. It was also why he and his partner were called upon when the fire began.
“He was at EMT class at West last night,” explained Perry’s father, Phil Calvin. “He and another boy responded to the fire alarm for West fire department and they got at the fire scene before the explosion. They were both right there at the explosion site.”
Phil Calvin is the fire chief in Navarro Mills.
Phil and his son became volunteer firefighters when arsonists set fire to their hay back in 1996, they both enjoyed it and stuck around.
“He’s just always enjoyed it,” Phil said. “He enjoyed helping people and getting into the mix of it. He’s always wanted to be a fireman.”
Perry Calvin was attending Hill College Fire Academy, and taking training on the EMS. He was set to graduate in May from both programs.
“Of course, he’s one of those that just thought he could do anything,” Phil said. “When we found out he was over there we figured he’d want to be right up front in the middle of it.
The 1994 graduate of Frost High School was full of spirit, and as a young man he was a bull rider, then became a bull fighter as a rodeo clown. After marrying his wife, Becky, and becoming a father, he matured and began looking for steadier ways to provide for his family.
“He was a good guy,” Phil said. “He thought the world of his kids and his wife and he made a lot of changes over the years because of them. That’s why he was going to EMS school and trying to get on with Mexia Fire Department, to give them a better life.”
Lisa Bounds, a volunteer with Perry in the Frost 4-H, recalled Calvin as a good man who loved riding horses with his kids and would help out with any project.
“He’d do the best of his ability to help in any way he could. He’d do it without being asked,” Bounds said. “He was a very giving and caring person.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com