Detroit firefighters, holes in boots, honored in "BURN"

Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:14pm EST
 

By Kurt Anthony Krug

DETROIT (Reuters) - It was the death of Walter Harris, a 17-year veteran Detroit firefighter, in an abandoned building four years ago that inspired Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez to film their documentary "BURN."

"(Harris) was killed in the collapse of an abandoned building while fighting a fire. We heard that story and asked ourselves a pretty obvious question outside the fire service: Why is someone risking his life fighting a fire in an abandoned building? ... It seemed like there was a very compelling story here," Putnam told Reuters.

For an entire year, producers Putnam and Sanchez, 39, a Detroit native now living in Los Angeles, followed the firefighters of Engine Company 50 (E50) on Detroit's downtrodden east side, chronicling their triumphs and tragedies, as well as their private moments.

Now their film "BURN," which won the audience award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, is helping to raise much-needed money for Detroit firefighters, even as the filmmakers seek funds to get their documentary released nationwide.

On their first two nights with E50, Putnam and Sanchez went to 21 fires.

"The sheer volume and scope of the work that these guys were dealing with was shocking," said Putnam. "We didn't know what they were getting into."

Added Sanchez: "Being from Detroit, you become immune. It wasn't until I left that I realized not everyone is burning their city down."

30 FIRES DAILY IN DETROIT   Continued...

 
A closed fire hydrant is seen in front of a Detroit fire station in this publicity photo from the documentary film "Burn", released to Reuters December 10, 2012. For an entire year, producers Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez, a Detroit native now living in Los Angeles, followed the firefighters of Engine Company 50 (E50) on Detroit's downtrodden east side, chronicling their triumphs and tragedies, as well as their private moments. REUTERS/Burn/Handout