TODAY   |  April 21, 2013

Son vows to live up to fallen firefighter’s legacy

When the West, Texas, fertilizer facility exploded last week, off-duty Dallas fire captain Kenny Harris rushed to help. He perished in the effort, leaving behind a wife and three adult children, one a firefighter himself. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> residents in west, texas , the town devastated after that plant explosion, are starting to return to their homes. gabe gutierrez is live there this morning with the latest. gabe, good morning.

>> reporter: jenna, good morning. local authorities say right now, everyone is accounted for and they don't expect to find any more bodies.

>> don't know what to think. it was just unbelievable.

>> reporter: authorities are allowing some west, texas , residents to return home for the first time. since the explosion that flattened part of the town on wednesday.

>> i'm like, whoo hoo, i get to go home. then, what am i going to go home to?

>> reporter: a file with the state health department showed the fertilizer facility that blew up had 270 tons of ammonium nitrate. no additional chemical information is required by texas . but federal officials are looking into whether that amount should have raised red flags and already some lawmakers are asking whether chemical storage regulations should be strengthened. the death toll stands at 14, including five firefighters and four medics. off-duty dallas fire captain kenny harris saw the initial flames and rushed to help the local volunteer department.

>> it just don't seem real at all.

>> reporter: he leaves behind a wife and three adult children.

>> he never once thought of himself or of his safety.

>> reporter: his oldest son judd also a dallas firefighter.

>> i'm still going to keep doing it, you know. try to live up to my dad's legacy.

>> he was my best friend. we -- we did everything together.

>> reporter: it is amazing the show of support that family is getting. captain harris had been a firefighter for 31 years, jenna.

>> gabe gutierrez, thank you.