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Thursday, August 7, 2014

First Person: Fire

I've been doing this news thing, in one form or another, since Jimmy Carter was in the White House.  In spite of all those years, I'm still in awe of the damage fire can do, and it still frightens me.

My Tuesday morning assignment was to cover a particularly nasty fire on Lackawanna Avenue in East Stroudsburg.  Our photographer, who works out of the Pocono Newsroom, was already there.  I was to meet up with another photographer in Moosic, and drive to East Stroudsburg to do live reports for Newswatch 16 This Morning, and our noon broadcast.  There were 10 scheduled "hits" in all.

One challenge was getting to the scene.  All the streets surrounding the fire were closed.
We found an apartment complex parking lot a few blocks away.  I jumped out of the truck and walked to the scene to get information.  Photographer Corey negotiated with a police officer to get a better parking spot.  The police officer was very accommodating.  Were close enough to see what was going on, but still out of the way of first responders.  I wish everyone could be so cooperative.
It was an interesting, and a sad morning.  Eight living units were destroyed.  22 people lost their homes.  Many were hurt.  All were uninsured and lost everything.

We found some willing to share their stories, and I thank them.  I know it isn't easy.

After Good Morning America ended, it was time to head to the Pocono Newsroom to write an updated version of the day's events for Newswatch 16 at Noon, another live report, and my day came to an end.  I handed off to co-worker Amanda Kelley, who found more and interesting angles for our later broadcasts.
Before I go, a few thoughts on row homes.  Some are beautiful, old buildings...  but they can be dangerous.  Many have common attics, so once the flames travel to the top, they spread fast to every unit.  I've seen it happen too many times.  Building owners really have to take steps to partition off attics with fire resistant materials.