June 23, 2012

On Assignment: Milpitas House Fire

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, I received a breaking news message from the editor at a local newspaper I freelance for, The Milpitas Post.  The report came in as a structure fire with evacuation in progress.  I grabbed my gear and hopped in the car as quickly as possible.  I approached the scene ten minutes into the call and found that police had a healthy sized perimeter set up.  I had to park a block away and walk into the scene.  By the time I passed the police line, there were only embers left.

With that in mind, I changed my game plan.  I decided it would be best to capture some images of the fire fighters cleaning up the scene and reacting to the heat.  I also wanted to get in close and network with the fire department.  Getting access during breaking news is key.  The more often fire fighters see me at emergency scenes, the more they start to trust me, and the more likely they are to provide me access during a more intense situation.

A couple of tips to shooting fire scenes:
1.  Identify yourself with the perimeter Police.
2.  Stay in the designated Safe working area.
3.  Work the angles and find great light (if available).
4.  Don't be afraid to talk to emergency personnel.
5.  Move in closer when safety allows, but always stay out of the way.
6.  Leave a few business cards and follow up with some images.

473 Donahe Place House Fire, Milpitas, Calif. - Images by Stan Olszewski

Gear used:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
ExpoImaging ExpoDisc 77mm Neutral

1 comment:

  1. For me, your house burning is one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. I've seen several burn injury lawyer in los angeles handle fire accident cases and I tell you, it seems to be a very tough challenge. They need to be really careful in gathering all the evidences which lead to the fire which caused harm to everyone around the incident.