Before and After …

by George on December 15, 2013

Denver Construction - Before

Photographs © George A. Jardine

Folks have been building a pretty massive apartment complex across the street from me here in Denver over the last year. This is a shot I got in early morning sunlight a few weeks ago.

About midnight last night, someone was running through the halls of my complex shouting “FIRE!”

Well, that doesn’t happen very often. My eyes popped open to see a VERY intense yellow light out the east facing bedroom windows. Yes, there clearly was a fire. I ran out to my balcony (which also faces east…), and the color and sound of the fire was so intense it appeared to be my building that was on fire. Glowing cinders were dropping into the swimming pool. But the fire was out front (to the west), so I couldn’t really see the actual source.

Nevertheless, I scrambled around, getting dressed and thinking, OK, now…. what do you take? I couldn’t smell smoke yet, so I quickly packed up a laptop, a backup hard drive containing my photo libraries, some cash, one camera, and a few odds and ends and set them by the door. Then, before running out (maybe for the last time…), heart pounding like crazy, I decided to go out to the west facing stairwell, to see what I could see. It was only then that I saw the fire was actually across the street, and not in my building after all.

Denver Construction Fire - After

With the immediate danger of being in a burning building seemingly passed, I grabbed the camera and captured a few hundred frames of the firefighters putting out the last of the fire. If I had gone out to simply look when I was first awakened, I guess I would have seen flames several hundred feet high, that were reported visible from as much as 50 miles away.

This morning, still angry that I panicked and packed rather than shooting first, and asking questions later, I went out to survey the damage. Turns out, my building truly was in pretty critical danger. Cars in the parking lot were actually melted from the heat of flames nearly 75 yards away.

A White Range Rover gets what it deserves

Windows were broken out, plastic blinds melted, and paint and woodwork on the side of the my building was charred from the heat. Now I’m really glad my apartment faces east! Thankfully the building that burned was unoccupied, and to my knowledge, no one was hurt as a result of the fire.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Duane Pandorf December 15, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Wow! What an incredible light show!

Richard Ripley December 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Hi George:

Glad you are alright and that your building wasn’t burned. Happy Holidays!

Eric Meola December 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM

You’re right…should have got the shot and risked losing everything…only a photographer would think that way.

George December 15, 2013 at 11:19 AM

It was a split second decision. With that glowing yellow-red light right outside my window…. do I rush around and gather things up to get out? Or do I grab my camera and have a look first?

I think I made the right choice. But I didn’t get “the shot”.

Jan Kabili December 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Glad you’re OK George. That’s pretty scary.

Paul Beiser December 15, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Hey George,
WOW! Glad to hear you are ok, agree you made the right choice..

George December 15, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Yeah…. but I STILL want that shot!!! :-)

Philip December 28, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Hi George,
That certainly was a frightening experience and your natural reaction to flee the situation took over especially as you first thought it was your building that was on fire. I think most people would have taken the same action in that situation.
At least you managed to capture those brave fire fighters putting out the fire which alone looks pretty impressive. I’ve also never seen a melted Range Rover before either! Glad you survived the ordeal which after all is the most important thing.

Georgette Grossman January 4, 2014 at 4:15 PM

You made the right choice. You are alive and well to shoot another day!
Happy, safe 2014!

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