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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Person: Fire

I've been doing this a long time, and I've never gotten used to fires, especially fatal fires.  The sights, the smells, the tears, the frustration...

The latest was yesterday morning in Pottsville.  Photographer Jason and I had just put the finishing touches on a couple of stories on the Pittston area's serial mini mart robber.  We were in the truck on the way to Pittston when the call came in from the assignment desk.  Fatal fire.  Head to East Norwegian Street in Pottsville.

It was a sad story, but an easy one to put together.  All the elements were right in front of us.  Smoldering building.  Informative assistant fire chief.  Victim's friends.  We set up the satellite truck to go live during Newswatch 16 This Morning, plus an update during Good Morning America.

We kept going back for more video and more information between updates.  We packed up and headed back to the office to put together a story for our noon broadcast.  Photographer Corey edited that story.  I transmitted a script back to the station for management's approval before I left Pottsville.  An approved version was waiting for me when I returned.  Brittany Boyer took over at the scene, and she provided the updates for our afternoon and evening broadcasts.

As of this writing, no cause listed.  We do have some fire seasons.  One is during a summer heat wave.  People attempt to run giant air conditioners off extension cords from the 99 cents store.  The next is at the start of the fall heating season.  Neglected heating systems let you know they need help by catching fire.  A major cold snap is another trigger.  It's the 99 cent extension cord story, except with space heaters.

It wasn't a brutally cold night.  Other causes popped in to my mind.  Cooking.  Smoking.  General bad wiring.  We'll know eventually.  It doesn't make it less sad.

Please, be careful.  Make sure you have smoke alarms and they work.  Prevent tragedies.