Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Fire

I headed out at a little after 8 p.m. tonight to a house fire in the Town of Waukesha. As soon as the dispatch center started to send out fire engines, I knew it was serious. Back-up was being called and I could hear sirens screaming on the police scanner. At that point, I wrote down the address and headed out with my camera, a pad of paper, a pen and my gloves.

On my way to the fire, I realized I was going the wrong way when a fire truck sped the opposite way. I quickly made a U-turn and followed as fast as I could. We were joined by even more emergency vehicles.

When I did get to the scene of the fire, the neighboring streets were lined with emergency vehicles with their lights flashing. It looked the brightest and most amazing Christmas display.

I walked a couple of blocks to wear the house was with the fire. Before I could see flames, I could see smoke billowing into the air. There really weren't many flames visible, but it was clear that a fire burned deeply within.

Needing to take pictures in the dark, I felt relief when I found a tree to prop myself up against to stable myself. After getting a few decent shots, I walked around and began to talk to the neighbors that were huddled on their lawns watching the fire. Quite a few people walked to the scene. Many young children played on lawns while their parents stood wrapped in blankets.

I was directed to the family of the home on fire. They were an Asian family and many didn't speak any English. I did talk to one woman whose husband's aunt owned the building. She said that no one had been hurt and that she thought no one was home during the fire. Apparently, many people lived in the building.

I felt a bit rude taking pictures of the family as they gathered in the street in front of the home. Some of the members began arguing in a different language. I can only imagine what they might have been saying.

I think that the fire had to been fueled partly by the strong winds that blew. It was so cold out there, too. I felt like I had frostbite on my fingertips as I struggled to take pictures and to write what people told me in the dark.

I am thankful that no one was injured, but how awful for a family to lose their home on such a cold night so shortly before the holidays.

For more on this story, see The Freeman's Thursday paper at

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