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June 19, 2014

A fire victim counts his blessings

Hard to believe … and then some!

With flames ripping 15 feet high through his apartment complex May 7 and residents fleeing for their lives, Malcolm Anderson didn’t lose a thing.

Not even a toothpick.

Today, he’s living comfortably in a new apartment made available at Forest Acres Drive with all his furnishings intact. He managed to preserve his camera equipment, all the photographs he’s collected over time, and his table tennis paddles that are dear and sentimental to him.

Only days before, he had won a highly-calibrated photography competition with the Greater Lynn Camera Club. That award was saved.

His clothes and personal belongings didn’t have a mark. Maybe smoke damage, but all salvageable.

Anderson was enjoying the day at 23-D Forest Acres Drive in the apartment complex in Bradford where he’s lived 29 years. It was around 1 p.m. and he had just finished lunch. A glance out the rear glass door sent a shiver up his spine. Nothing but white smoke everywhere.

He went to dial 911 and before he got to the phone, people were yelling, “Get out! Fire!”

Anderson grabbed his shoes and rushed outdoors amid the chaos.

“Thinking about the moment, I wish I had grabbed my camera being the photographer that I am,” he reflected. “I would have had plenty of photos for the next competition. I stood outdoors and saw the flames shooting up without giving my belongings a second thought.”

Anderson spent the next eight days with a photography friend (Art Vaughn) from the Merrimack Valley Camera Club, where he was a frequent honoree for his work.

His apartment complex served as a veritable clearing house for table tennis photography, where he spent his days documenting the many tournaments he attended nationally.

We’re talking some 60,000 images from 1956 to the present. Ten world championships all over creation. National championships for five decades. Fortunately, he had them all computerized and filed safely with backup storage. Everything was spared.

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