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.
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.