Wow. Its only been about a week since Catfish Corner, a local eatery here in San Angelo, burned to the ground that another massive fire had the fire department on full alert. Last Thursday I was sitting up late watching television when my phone begins to chime from an incoming text from my boss. It simply read, "Palmer Feed is on fire." Well, now I was in a little bit of a conundrum. I could follow the directions given to me in next text which said to follow up in the morning when I got into work, or I could get out there now while there is an active fire and see if I could get some action photos. I decided that I would go ahead and go out to the scene and see what the real damage was going be. Besides, how many reruns of Duck Dynasty does a person really need to watch anyway?
I gathered up my gear and walked out the door to the car. It was essentially a clear and very cold night but I could see off in the distance that a low cloud bank was moving in. Or at least I thought it was a cloud bank. As I drove closer to the scene I realized that it was not clouds moving in, but actually all the smoke from the fire drifting over half the city from the blaze. I suddenly realized this was going to be a big fire.
I arrived on scene at about 12:30am, put CF cards in my cameras and set out on the 300-yard hike across a small field and railroad tracks to what appeared to be a large warehouse. I passed a few bystanders taking photos and video on their phones on my way to the fire. One of the cool aspects of my job is that I get a little better access to certain things than the general public. I quickly found San Angelo civic events manager Anthony Wilson and he told me that the warehouse actually belonged to a company called Lone Star Moving, a local house and apartment moving company, and it was full of stuff. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the people who were going to lose belongings in the fire. It looked like every fire house was called in to keep the blaze contained as the entire building was surrounded by personnel.
I ended up staying on the scene for about two hours circling the building several times trying to find different angles to shot the action. I eventually sent a text to my boss saying that I was leaving and would transmit photos of the fire to the office from home. When it was all said and done, I finished around 4:00 in the morning and crawled into bed. Eventually we learned that a homeless man had been arrested in connection with the blaze.