UPDATE: Former rodeo champion dies in Central Texas fire

posted by John Elliott -

BOSQUE COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) Former rodeo champion Chris Harris, Jr, 41, died in a fire that destroyed the large building in Laguna Park in which he lived and housed his collection of classic cars, authorities confirmed Friday.

Chris Harris competing in 2011. (Photo by Dan Hubbell)

Investigators found his body Thursday in the rubble of a burned out building in Laguna Park that used to house a carpet business.

The body was so badly burned that authorities could not immediately determine identity or gender.

American Forensics in Mesquite confirmed the identity, the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Friday.

The building is owned by Chris Harris, a former champion bareback rider who dabbled in antique and classic cars.

Firefighters from more than a half-dozen departments battled the fire Wednesday in the large metal Salvage Carpet building at the intersection of State Highway 22 and FM 56 in Laguna Park that closed down Highway 22 and left area residents without power after a utility pole burned.

Mike Parker, the shop foreman at Rankin Automotive, reported the fire at around 11:15 Wednesday.

He said he saw smoke that he at first thought was from a brush fire, and then flames burst through the roof of the building and shot 15 feet into the air.

Texas Rangers and the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office are leading the investigation, assisting Bosque County authorities.

An investigator from the fire marshal’s office said Thursday the cause of the fire may never be determined.

Harris, 41, a Fort Worth native, who attended Hill College in Hillsboro joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1996 and had career earnings of nearly $871,000, according to his biography on the PRCA website.

His father served in the Texas House from 1985 to 1991 and the Texas Senate from 1991 to 2013.

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