Saturday, March 19, 2011

Girl reporter just wants to sleep

OK, so I can't sleep again. I was up all night and was back downstairs to watch the DVR shows until Randy gets home from work. When that happens, it's never good. It's about 7:45 a.m. when he calls, "GET DRESSED! THE CHINESE PLACE IS ON FIRE!" What? I'm still pretty foggy and not sure I'm hearing him right, but the tone gets me moving. I grab the first thing I see as I'm running to our room. My right shoulder needs surgery, so it kills me to even life it slowly. The fast way it's torture, but I throw on my Team Damon shirt, black jeans and a pair of ripped black slip on shoes and my Alice in Wonderland hoodie. Yes, I'm a true fashion plate!

I'm running down the steps yelling to let the kids know I'm going to work and what's going on. Daughter comes flying down the steps looking for shoes. She thinks I need a ride. Good thing Randy was driving because there is no way on the face of this earth she's going outside in her jammies. She's not a little girl anymore.

The fire is out when we get there, but the damage is undeniable. The blackened building, water everwhere. The smell is unmistakeable. Burned wood and worse. I find the fire chief and he walks over. I think it's almost a relief for him to have someone to talk to. His eyes showed the weariness and something worse. He begins to talk, slowly at first, then the words just tumbled out at the end. There was a fatality, one more flown to Pittsburgh in critical condition and possibly two still unaccounted for. The one who died, jumped from the third story window as the fire became too much for him. His brother is a fireman in the department and he couldn't save his brother. He'll never be the same again.

We're well beyond the police tape, but I might as well be invisible. The firemen and police just look past me. I'm at the fire truck talking to my cousin who is in the department. Randy goes closer to the burned out shells that were once a Chinese restaurant, a financial management office and many apartments. One State police officer challenged him, but quickly let him do his work. One look at the camera and a word from the firemen and he's part of the brotherhood. If you look & act like you belong, you'll be left alone. We've learned that over the last 17 years I've had this profession.

I'm home now, frozen solid. I'm grateful the loss isn't closer to me. While the one lost is part of our community, he isn't family. I'm ashamed to even have that thought, but there's no way I could write the story if he would have been any closer. I've turned down assignments when it hits to close to home.

Next time you read the top of the fold news, it's not only the subject that suffers, it's the reporter, too. Contrary to popular opinion, we are human and do have a heart.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the one who died and for the one who was injured. I hope everyone has been accounted for. I sent you a Facebook friend suggestion for Ridgway Pennsylvania. There is mention of the fire there.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Thanks for the friend suggestion. I sent them a note. Some people are put off by my screen name for some odd reason. :) If they look at the photo, they'll know who I am though.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Jeni said...

I've been following the news about this fire -I live in the same TV viewing area as Ridgway and each new broadcast about the fire reminded me of you -and your job -and having to report the news. Rough job to do when it comes to news like this, that's for sure. So terrible too as we hear the latest news pertaining to this fire on the tv as well. Gonna be a hard one for the community to recover from, I'm sure. I appreciated reading your post here though -for the take from someone in your profession. A view one usually never hears or sees in print or on tv but gives us yet another perspective to keep in mind when tragedies like these happen.

1:16 AM  

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