Monday, February 14, 2011

I missed the flames but got the real story of the fire

Right off the bat today fire tones rang out over the newsroom from the police scanner. An attic fire. I grabbed my gear and headed out the door.

As I approached the house a lot of smoke was billowing out but flames were nowhere to be seen. As I neared the firetrucks a few flames sprouted from the roof but they only lasted a couple seconds before being doused for good. 

The fire was under control and the opportunity for great action shots had all but passed. 

I watched the firefighters go in and out of the house carrying charred pieces of wood, wall insulation. A firefighter came out carrying some family photos and I knew it was the best thing I was going to get. I shot the photos and waited for him to return to the house with a second load.

I noticed the homeowner and her daughter talking to the firefighters and pointing at the closed garage door. They opened it and the firefighters rushed in as a wave of thick smoke wafted out. 

Expecting to see flames I raised my camera and waited. What I got was more powerful than fire. The firefighters came out carrying two small dogs, one dangling lifeless. 

The firefighters came running to where I was standing, the dog was foaming from the mouth. They got on their knees next to an EMT and got to work, giving the dog oxygen with a mask meant for a person. 

In all the fires I have photographed I have rarely seen anything so compelling and I captured every second of it. I have shots of the dogs being brought out and shots of the dog surrounded by emergency crews, but one shot, after the dog had been stabilized, told the whole story.

*Click photo to enlarge*
Camera: Nikon D3s. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm. 1/250th of a sec. @f/3.2, ISO 400.