Athens Review, Athens, Texas

In the News

April 18, 2013

Area firefighter missing in West

Calvin, a Navarro County volunteer, responded to fire prior to explosion

WEST, TEXAS — WEST — A Navarro County firefighter is among the missing at the scene of a fertilizer plant explosion in West, according to emergency responders.

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 class — another firefighter not from Navarro County — also responded with Calvin and was killed.

The West Fertilizer Company caught fire Wednesday evening and an explosion shook the city just before 8 p.m., leveling the plant. As many as 160 people are injured, and 15 are either dead or missing, including Calvin.

The rancher was in training to become an emergency medical technician, which is why he was training with the West Ambulance service, and which is why he was 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.

The body of the other firefighter was found early Thursday. His identity has not been released by authorities. Perry Calvin is still missing. Family and friends have rallied around the family, with other firefighters searching hospitals and going to the scene. Perry’s sister, who is in the Air Force stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, drove in early Thursday morning to help with the search. She is also a member of the Navarro Mills Volunteer Fire Department.

The family is continuing to hold out hope, Phil Calvin said.

“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.

“We’re hoping he got sent to a hospital,” he said.

Calvin is a resident of Emmett, and is married to Becky Calvin. They have two children and another on the way. Perry Calvin is a 1994 graduate of Frost High School.

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