Yesterday we arrived at a local neighborhood where a fire call had been toned out and then canceled. We were told there was no fire, but an explosion. After going door to door and talking to neighbors in nearby neighborhoods, we were hearing many first hand accounts of the scene. We learned that a two story home exploded suddenly Wednesday morning. Most of the surrounding homes were severely damaged and homes within a few miles were shaken and windows shattered by the force of the blast. After seeing the scene, it seemed like nothing less than a miracle that the baby not only survived the blast, but was found by firefighters under four feet of debris within 15 minutes of their arrival and transported to the hospital. After being evaluated by the hospital we were told she had some bruises but that was about it. Amazing. It was bittersweet, knowing that the infant, Parker Singer, 4 1/2 months, survived while her mother did not. We knew that a family had lost their loved one and that the baby had lost her mother. It was a tough thing to cover and witness and I watched as our reporters did it with compassion and professionalism. They made me proud to have them there with me.
Today we don’t know much more, but the investigation is ongoing. Here are a few shots from yesterday.
Today I was driving to a house fire (wondering how anything could burn in a thunderstorm…) and these adventurous people were paddling down a drainage ditch along the highway. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and ventured out into the storm to get their photo. Truckers were honking and they were waving to drivers as they went by.
Later when we were all dry, I was able to talk with them a bit and they said that after they put the canoe away they did a little boogie boarding in the ditch as well. I’m sad I missed that, but I’m glad I happened upon them while they were out there.
Known by some as Victoria’s “fairy dog mother” Heidi Uresti-Sanchez, a pet sitter, was not at home when a fire started. When she found out, she rushed home and watched as Victoria firefighters administered oxygen to four dogs and a cat in front of her house. Firefighters could not resuscitate one of the last animals recovered from the fire, a black house cat named Ben. It was so sad to watch them try and then when he couldn’t be revived, help her wrap Ben up as she said goodbye. I’ve never covered a fire where pets were rescued and treated like this. A firefighter I knew talked to me afterwards explaining that it’s pretty unique that they have the little masks for pets so they can treat them at fire scenes. It isn’t required, but they were donated and now all our engines have them to help pets when needed.
Last week I covered a Shattered Dreams event at one of the local high schools. Shattered Dreams is a two day program designed to educate students about the danger of drinking and driving. A mock accident is set up that is modeled after a real accident situation that occurred in this area. The students are set into the staged accident scene and are treated, transported and dealt with by local firefighters, police and other emergency personnel.
As a journalist who actually covers awful car accidents regularly in this area, I was a little disturbed by the experience because it was so easy to imagine it being real. I could see myself covering this very accident, listening to these kids crying and watching the hurt ones flown off. It was not hard for me to imagine at all, especially after the fatal accidents I’ve covered here. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much it actually touched our local students. I could see some of them definitely didn’t seem to care, they were texting and playing games and talking.
Much like when we print accident photos and we hope that the image helps someone to buckle up, or pull over when they’re tired or put down their phone, I hope that this helps someone think twice too. It was definitely intense enough to make a lasting impression.