Wednesday evening a fire broke out a few doors down from where Anna and I were having dinner. We realized what was happening when we saw three engine companies and two truck companies of the San Francisco Fire Department pull up in front. We grabbed our cameras and and ran out onto sidewalk and began shooting the scene.
The Rain Tree Cafe on the corner of Irving and Eighth Avenue seemed be burning. I moved in close to the fire fighters as I had only a 35mm lens with me and Anna was able to stay back a bit with her wide to telephoto zoom. I managed to stay close but out of the way while shooting as the fire fighters broke through the front door of the cafe and put ladders up to the roof. Smoke began billowing out the front door as fire fighters moved into the cafe and attacked the source of the fire. We crossed the street a couple of times seeking different angles and views of the activity.
In no time I had run through the two rolls of film I had with me. While anna continued shooting I went half way up the block to Express Photo. Alan Dejecacion was still running the C41 processor despite the fact it was the day before Thanksgiving. The lab was closing in 30 minutes, but Alan took my film and said he'd have it ready in fifteen minutes. He quickly sold me another roll of film and I was back out shooting the mop up of what turned out to be a small grease fire. The cafe had closed early, but someone had left the grill on and in the course of a couple of hours a pot of grease sitting on the grill had begun to burn.
Thanks to Alan I was able to post a short photo essay on the fire to my Flickr page within a few hours of shooing the pictures. While we've seen the demise of most the photo labs in the City it's a relief to have Express Photo right in the neighborhood.
(Not only does Alan help keep Express Photo running, he's also a great photographer. You can see many of his documentary projects and photojournalism on his Flickr page.)
Photo: ©2007 David W. Sumner