A call came over the newsroom scanner that a mobile home in the Mead Royale Park was fully involved by fire. By the time reporter Chris Rodkey and I arrived at the scene, District 9 firefighters had already knocked the flames down. I shot an interview with the fire chief and made as many B-roll fire shots as I could.
I searched for anyone who had witnessed the start of the blaze. I went to the home next door and a woman who came to the door said she knew the owner of the burned mobile home. “In fact,” she said, “Stacy’s inside.” “Do you want to come in and talk to her?” the neighbor asked.
I found a sobbing Stacy Beck trying to make a phone call to her father in Montana. She was having trouble getting through on her neighbor’s phone so I offered her my cell. She didn’t pay any attention to my video camera as I filmed her making the call.
This is where being a photojournalist is tough. We are trained to document life— the good and the bad. Filming Stacy telling her dad that she had lost everything was gut-wrenching. At the time, I wished I could have been anywhere but pointing a video camera at this grieving woman. There was little I could say to comfort Stacy, so I just let her talk. She had lost all of her most valued possessions, including a trunk full of treasured family mementos. As I left, I touched her on her shoulder and said I was sorry. Sorry for her loss and for the intrusion in what was probably the worst day of her life.