East Chicago Flames

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A fire ball develops after an explosion during a fire at 526 W. Chicago Ave. in East Chicago, Ind., Saturday March 9, 2013. The East Chicago Fire Department received a call about smoke in the building around 4:30 p.m.

When I chose a major in journalism, I knew that working in news wasn’t always going to be heartwarming. It can get pretty ugly and I think that’s been reaffirmed for me lately. Saturday night, I was getting ready to go out for the night when I found out about a fire in East Chicago that was beginning to damage a small recycling center. By the time I got there, the building was engulfed in flames.  I know that three buildings were badly damaged, but I haven’t been able to shoot the extent of the damage.

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A fire ball rises high into the air after an explosion during a fire Saturday.

When I shot another fire in Whiting in January, it was a little easier to shoot because the police lines were clearly marked, so I knew where I could shoot from. I also felt confident that the fire was contained, and it wasn’t as stressful as the East Chicago fire for me. This time, crowds of people were being pushed back by police officers every few minutes, I was being told to leave occasionally, and the owners of the damaged buildings were around. The black smoke could be seen from miles away and the fire seemed to be growing every moment. A few loud explosions sent fireballs high up into the air.

I saw people crying, talking about the buildings, and begging police officers to let them get things out of their cars that were very close to the fire. It’s not easy to watch and be around such events.  Regardless, it’s my job to tell the story and that’s what I try to do.

 

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An electrical pole was destroyed in the flames. When inspectors from the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office and the East Chicago Fire Department finish searching the buildings, the most damaged will be torn down.

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A small crowd gathers to watch the fire while firefighters work to put it out. Police officers were in place keeping people at a safe distance.

Firefighters work to put out the fire that began Saturday afternoon. I was able to shoot this image from a large bridge beside the buildings.

Firefighters work to put out the fire that began Saturday afternoon. I was able to shoot this image from a large bridge beside the buildings.

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