Shinjuku Residental Fire
Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. I was near the eastern end of Shinjku in central Tokyo when a lot of smoke started drifting towards us. I took me awhile to figure out where the smoke was coming from and by the time I had gotten there the fire had already been raging for 40 minutes, it had taken me that long to reach it. It turned out that a wooden apartment building on a narrow backstreet had caught fire and while I was there it spread to two more buildings before being put out about three hours later. Luckily there were only two minor injuries and over a dozen fire trucks and dozens of auxiliary vehicles, ambulances, police cars and buses crowded the area. Japan really has some of the most amazing fire fighters I have ever seen, and not any less impressive where the dozens of volunteer firefighters taking care of less physically demanding but critical duties like crowd control, equipment deployments etc., many of them female and many near or over retirement age! As terrible as a home fire always is, I know it could have been a lot worse if it hadn’t been for the well trained professionals showing up to help.
I don’t know about you, but I think the first photo is the most beautiful I have ever taken, a young firefighter pausing for a split second to get his bearings while carrying oxygen tanks from the scene of the blaze to the safer staging area. I saw many of them carrying dozens of these heavy tanks to the smoke diving helmet equipped fire fighter working inside the buildings.