3:00PM From the freeway I could see firefighters and apparatus but no smoke. Pulled around back to see whats up and noticed a 4 inch line running up to the roof fully charged. Then I heard the cutting tools. Like a chainsaw but with a big abrasive disc instead of a chain. They were cutting through the roof! A common firefighting technique to get water into the interior or the attic space of a building like this. Theres was a bunch of white foam coming out the old north entrance and some more firefighters just standing around. They paid no attention to me. Then a young hispanic guy pulls up in a white Toyota truck with stick on signs that say Mall Security.
I had seen him before at night as he was parked outside the church that had leased space but never saw him in the daytime. I rolled the window down and smiled. He asked what I was doing and I said I just came to see the fire! "This is private property" he said in the most authoritative way he could so I just said "cool" and drove off. I had to circle back around the building and come back out that way of course. He was still sitting there and two firemen were climbing down from the roof. Downwind I could smell the smouldering fire but still no smoke and no visible damage.
There was damage but it appeared to be a result of interior tear out and salvage operations. Holes punched in second floor walls and windows busted out with new boarding. The fire department ripped a bunch of this stuff off getting inside. I had to get back to work but I made plans to return that evening.
10:00PM Drove around the perimeter twice looking for activity. The Big Town Lanes bowling alley is the only business still active and it sits on the remote southwest corner of the property. I decided to park there to blend in with their patrons. I watched for another 10 minutes and no sooner than I had exited my truck a security guard comes out the door of the bowling alley. He makes a short trip through the lot and gave me no more than a cursory glance before going back inside so I grab my gear and go. By this time a thunderstorm was moving in and I began to worry about my camera getting wet. Made it to the access point I had scoped out earlier in the day and realized I would not be safe from water in here at all! Hundreds of gallons of water from the afternoon fire fighting efforts were still running through holes in the roof and trickling down the walls. I had to sprint through the deluge dodging little waterfalls while protecting my precious camera under one arm and trying to light the way through the debris holding my red l.e.d. light in the other. I had run into a dead end. The main corridor was full of wet debris. Stinking smouldering debris from the fire and the interior demo. And the sound of the water falling in the eerie silence made me wish I had brought a tape recorder. It was very surreal sounding and the wind from the approaching thunderstorm was whipping it around in a fine mist inside like a miniature monsoon. Back into the shower I decided I had to take a different route. Got a few pics but nothing too great. It was just too dark for auto focus so dont rate this location because of my sloppy recon shots. I may go back in the daylight to see if theres anything worth shooting but sadly I think this is about it for Big Town Mall. It wont be long now.