Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

April 19, 2013

WEST EXPLOSION: Local firefighter remembers Harris

Corsicana — Shane Farmer and the firefighters on his shift at Dallas’ No. 30 station knew when Kenny Harris came in antsy, it usually meant additional chores. Painting fire hydrants. Cleaning the stove or refrigerator. Waxing the floors.

“When his boys would do something at home and get in trouble, he’d make them cut wood,” Farmer said. “They sold firewood. So when he’d come in antsy, and we knew we were going to be doing something extra that day, we’d say something like, ‘Cap, what did the boys do? Why do we have to cut wood because the boys got in trouble?’”

It was all in fun, but that’s the way ‘Cap,’ as he was called on his shift, preferred it.

Harris, 52, known as Luckey to his family and friends, Farmer said, died in Wednesday night’s fertilizer plant explosion in West. The Dallas fire captain lived in West, and was off that day, and relaxing with friends when the fire broke out.

Farmer, an almost 15-year Dallas firefighter and paramedic veteran who lives in Mildred, and other guys on his shift were on duty at the fire station at Royal and Zodiac at the time of the explosion. Harris had taken the day off.

It didn’t take long for the 57 stations and 1,600 uniformed Dallas fire employees to start connecting the dots.

“We got calls all night long,” Farmer said. “He was loved, and respected.”

Harris had been Farmer’s captain the last six years.

The last call Farmer took was at 2:30 a.m., from Harris’ oldest son, a Dallas firefighter housed at station No. 51. “Cap” was among the missing.

A family friend drove Harris, in nothing more than jeans and a T-shirt, close to the fire. Harris jumped out, and told the friend to “get out of here,” Farmer said.

“‘These guys have never seen anything like this,’” Farmer said the family friend recalled Harris saying. “‘If you smell ammonia, get out of here.’”

Five minutes later, the plant exploded, Farmer said.

Station No. 30 is prepared to deal with all kinds of chemical fires, Farmer said. It sits nestled near an industrial area, and they never know what they may find. Harris was very safety-minded, he said.

“He knew (Wednesday’s fire) was bad,” said Farmer, who speculated Harris likely wanted to try to get the others away from the fire. “But at the time (of the explosion), he was seen helping them” fight the fire.

“I just don’t think he knew it was that grave.”

Early Thursday morning, Farmer joined the rest of his shift, and three other Dallas firefighters who have moved on from No. 30, in West to help exhume the body of their captain. They visited with the family, and tried to comfort Harris’ wife Holly and his three boys, the younger two who drove in from Midland, where they work in the oil fields, Farmer said.

They were allowed to load his body, and they stayed to be a part of the honor guard with peers from around the state for the other 10 first responders who lost their lives that day, including Navarro Mills volunteer Perry Calvin.

Farmer didn’t know Calvin. “I talked to his crew” in West, Farmer said. “I wish I would have known him.”

After a long day, Farmer returned home about 1 a.m. Friday.

“It was a long day, and a long night,” Farmer said. “But it was a long night too (Wednesday) at the station when people started calling.”

Harris led a loose group. The mood at the station was generally light. He was never mad, always smiling, a genuine good guy. Harris had bought a large boat last summer, docked on the Texas coast. A station fishing trip was in the works.

“If you could have met him, you’d think he was great,” Farmer said.

His sons were great athletes, and he and Farmer had that in common. When their 24 hour shifts would start, they’d sit around the station and drink coffee, and talk about the two days they just had off.

“He’d say, ‘How did baby girl do at her ballgame?,’” Farmer said. “Baby girl” is Shane’s daughter Olivia, a senior at Mildred who excelled at several sports and who has signed to play softball next year at Navarro.

Families would often stop by the station. They often visited their families during holidays there.

Saturday morning, Farmer and four of his Dallas fire brethren will check back in at 7 a.m. for the first shift since getting off Thursday morning.

“There’s going to be an emptiness at the station,” he said. “He was a good one. He took care of us.”


Raymond Linex II may be reached by email at Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email:

Text Only
Latest News
  • 8-1-14 city council meet.jpg City to raise water, sewer rates

    Water rates, sewer rates and trash rates will all go up for Corsicana city residents, according to preliminary budget figures presented to the city council Thursday afternoon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • City cancels ambulance contract with county

    The City of Corsicana has notified Navarro County officials it is cancelling its agreement with the county to provide EMS ambulance service to areas outside the city limits. According to a letter sent to county officials by Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, ambulance service to county residents will end on Jan. 31, 2015.

    July 31, 2014

  • 8-1-14 TxDOT.jpg TxDOT work nears completion

    The project to rebuild Seventh Avenue or Highway 31 as it goes through Corsicana is almost over. From an uneven patchwork of paving and pitted concrete, now it’s a smooth ride from Beaton all the way through town.
    It just took an extra year to finish.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-31-14 Fire2.jpg Deputies, fire departments have busy weekend

    An attempt to bootleg electricity off a pole using jumper cables is believed to have caused a building fire that took out a former restaurant in Angus Friday morning, one of a series of calls to Navarro County Sheriff’s Office to the southern end of the county over the weekend.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-31-14 Rice ISD Alex Stough mug.jpg Rice students win UIL scholarships

    Three Rice High School students received UIL scholarships for competing in academic competitions at the state level, according to advisor Alan Lewis.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • 7-31-14 Collin Main signal.jpg Signal finally fixed

    It took a couple of months to get the parts, but the signal light at Main and Collin streets in downtown Corsicana is finally up and working again.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor from a grim start to 2014 and should show renewed strength into next year.

    July 30, 2014

  • Poll: Americans cool to border-crossing children

    SAN DIEGO — Americans are wary of granting refugee status to children crossing the U.S. border to flee strife-torn countries in Central America, and most in an Associated Press-GfK poll say the U.S. does not have a moral obligation to accept asylum seekers generally.

    July 30, 2014

  • 7-30-14 4-H robotics.jpg Science made simple

    Hats out of old newspaper and leftover wrapping paper, simple robots out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands and pencil erasers, a microcosm of the aquifer made of root beer and ice cream — with a dollop of chocolate syrup. These were among the fun science projects at Tuesday’s 4-H Discovery Days event at the Navarro County Youth Expo.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • County: No increase in city subsidies

    As budget talks continue at the Navarro County Courthouse, one consensus that’s been reached will impact budget planning at the Corsicana Government Center.

    July 29, 2014