After the Fire

BettyJo_02The fire that wrecked this four-unit apartment building on Fayetteville’s Betty Jo Drive happened more than a year and a half ago (I first mentioned it in a blog post here). It’s still standing there. Why it hasn’t been torn down is something of a neighborhood mystery.

BettyJo_05As I wrote in a story running in today’s paper,

The doors and windows are gone. The rear walls are little more than charred studs, while jagged holes have been punched in the front. The blue threads of an old shredded tarp stretch like cobwebs across holes in the roof.

_C1_0018The story’s pretty interesting; basically the owners, who bought it after the fire, haven’t violated any city code yet and still plan to renovate the building. Financing has just been more difficult to come by than expected, for a few reasons.

Meanwhile this skeleton of eight people’s home waits.

BettyJo_04This is the second time they’ve let me take photos for the paper — the first time was also a fire. I wonder if there’s a pattern here.

Thanks for looking,


A Fayetteville Christmas Story

_C1_9718 smallThis picture looks ominous, but believe me, the story I got to write for today’s paper to go along with this photo is a happy one.

That’s what remains of Paul Pannell’s car after a major fire destroyed most of his home Monday evening and Tuesday morning. All of those icicles are from fire fighters’ efforts to dispel the blaze.

Pannell is 92 and lives toward the northeast edge of town. His son-in-law, Bill Meissinger, lives next door.

From my story here (requires a subscription):

Meissinger said he grabbed an extension ladder and smashed it through Pannell’s bedroom window. Gray smoke billowed out and he couldn’t see, even with his flashlight. He hollered several times for Pannell but got no response, he said.

Then he said he remembered Pannell fought in the Battle of the Bulge and still dreams of it. Meissinger called out his rank: “Command Sgt. Maj. Pannell!”

“‘What, what’s going on?’” Meissinger said he heard immediately. “I said, ‘You gotta get to this light!’ As soon as I felt his hand the war was on.”

Meissinger was able to pull his father-in-law to safety, and he was shortly taken for treatment of minor injuries. Meissinger said nurses told him Pannell was likely a dozen seconds from death.

Just an astounding story from here, and it’s really a coincidence only that I got to be the one writing about it. I’m sharing it also because these are the first photos I’ve been able to take at my job here, though they aren’t much to look at. Meissinger’s on the left:

_C1_9707 small

Thanks for looking, and if you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was a merry one.