En Fuego

As far as spot news goes, fires are usually money for decent images. Heard a call on the scanner yesterday while working for the Herald that ended with “All units please respond,” and I bolted out the door. Got to the smoldering warehouse in Southie around the same time as the first fire truck.

Here’s an accidental photo that I really liked. Not really a news photo, but I dig it.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — A firefighter exits the smoldering warehouse at 1st and B Streets in South Boston, where firefighters responded to reports of smoke outside the building. Fire inspectors believe the smoke originated from a pile of smoldering garbage being used for warmth by homeless people inside.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — A firefighter exits the smoldering warehouse at 1st and B Streets in South Boston, where firefighters responded to reports of smoke outside the building. Fire inspectors believe the smoke originated from a pile of smoldering garbage being used for warmth by homeless people inside.

And, of course, a few photos from the initial scene:

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Boston firefighters prepare to enter a smoke-filled warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm. One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Boston firefighters prepare to enter a smoke-filled warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm. One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Boston firefighters open ventilation  in the wall of a smoke-filled warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm. One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Boston firefighters open ventilation in the wall of a smoke-filled warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm. One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — oston firefighters sift through the debris from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from the smoldering that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — oston firefighters sift through the debris from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from the smoldering that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm.

Pretty boring stuff by fire photo standards, with no actual flames on the scene. But reporter Laurel Sweet, who wrote the story, and I were treated to a tour of the interior by the fire inspectors. Inside was a veritable homeless condominium, with makeshift apartments fashioned out of the offices inside.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Homeless squatters left bottles of a mystery liquid that fire inspectors believe to be either moonshine or urine strewn throughout the second floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Homeless squatters left bottles of a mystery liquid that fire inspectors believe to be either moonshine or urine strewn throughout the second floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009. Firefighters responded to reports of smoke, which came from a smoldering pile of paper and garbage on the first floor that fire inspectors believe was being used by homeless squatters to stay warm.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Homeless squatters had set up a long-term presence in second floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Homeless squatters had set up a long-term presence in second floor of the NEFCO warehouse in South Boston at 1st and C Streets on Dec. 13, 2009.

With such an entrenched human presence inside the warehouse, it could have been much worse, with the inspectors estimating that about 15 people lived in this place. With that mystery liquid, which could have been anything from kerosene, to moonshine, but most likely urine, it could have been a disaster. Luckily, it wasn’t, and safe enough for the Boston Fire Department to give us an awesome behind-the-scenes look at what they have to potentially deal with in these situations.

Much thanks to the Boston Fire Department!

And finally, I leave you with an outtake of the last known resident of this homeless hacienda:

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Spongebob Squarepants hangs on the door of one of the offices being used as a bedroom by homeless squatters in a South Boston warehouse on Dec. 13, 2009.

12.13.2009 — BOSTON — Spongebob Squarepants hangs on the door of one of the offices being used as a bedroom by homeless squatters in a South Boston warehouse on Dec. 13, 2009.

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