Downtown Inferno

2005FirePhoto

By Carla McKeown

During the lunch hour of Feb. 16, 2005, I was the only person in the Breckenridge American newsroom when the police scanner came alive with reports of a downtown fire. Breck Printing, located less than a block from the newspaper office was burning.

I was the semi-weekly newspaper’s Lifestyles Editor, but at a time like that, the entire staff becomes news reporters. I grabbed my camera and rushed out the door, stopping only briefly to ask the receptionist to track down the editor and sports editor and let them know what was going on.

In the end, the building was a total loss, but there were no personal injuries. When we all got back to the newsroom, it was obvious we had much more than just a few photos. Not only was it a major event in town, a beloved landmark was gone.

Two of my photos were picked up by the Associated Press and printed in several Texas newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. They can still be seen online at the Firehouse website.

I encouraged the editor to plan a special section for the next edition of the paper and we all divided up the assignments on the various angles on the story. Our final product garnered regional, state and national awards. You can see the entire section in the Features section of this blog.

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