We were in the newsroom shortly before 9:00 PM when the scanner traffic began talking about a fire on Stone Street. First, it was just "some smoke in the laundry room". Then, fire fighters on the scene reported flames coming from the roof.... people were trapped... and within a few minutes the building was fully engulfed.
One hour before the newscast, we ALL had to pull together to get live pictures on the air by 10:00 PM. The photographer, Adam, that was called in could not make it to KAIT and back to the scene to setup by 10:00. Since I was not busy, I decided to drive the LIVE truck to the scene to meet up with him. Before I even had the keys out of the van, he was setting up!
Meanwhile reporter Krystal Whitman was on the scene from home within minutes. Also, Lauren Payne made it to the to the fire for a live report at 10:00. Even one of our studio camera operators chipped in by following me to the scene with the Wood Ford StormTRACKER. I needed something to drive back to the station.
I snapped these pictures in order to have pictures on the website ASAP. That's what we mean by "Always Tracking, Always Watching, Always On"... We have to live up to our slogan.
I say all of this to show you how "wrapped up" we were in the "news story aspect" tonight. After the newscast, when the cameras stop rolling and the lights go out, we sit back and take in the reality of what happened. Someone died tonight.
There is a family mourning tonight over the death of a loved one. There are people that are homeless tonight. There are residents in the hospital recovering. This news story affected a ton of people.
When I drove back to the TV station shortly before 10:00, I noticed cars driving fast toward the scene with their hazard lights on. Did they have family there? Were their family members injured? I'm not sure, but I bet they were very concerned as they drove down the streets tonight.
Keep the families and residents in your prayers.
This was a horrible night in Jonesboro.