Twenty years ago an event took place in Minden that will forever be burned into my memory.
Minden’s largest private employer, Fibrebond suffered a major fire which destroyed one of its manufacturing facilities. I was there the night of the fire covering the news story for the Minden Press-Herald.
It all began on a Sunday night with a phone call from sports editor Clint Land who told me the police scanner was going off about a fire on Erwin Thompson Drive. I told him to keep listening to it and let me know if it was anything significant.
Five minutes later, he called back in a flurry of excitement saying “Fibrebond is on fire!” Immediately we sprung into action, calling all the reporters and photographers to head out to the fire.
Minden Police Chief T.C. Bloxom Jr. was keeping everyone away from the scene. As I arrived, I lowered my window, he looked and waved me through and said the immortal words, “Don’t get killed.”
For the next two hours, Sandra Samuel, Allen Smith and I were running all over the Fibrebond manufacturing area, trying to contain our excitement of the photos we were taking, while also trying to conserve film. We had never been at a news event of this magnitude.
As I rounded the exterior of the building, I saw the Fibrebond logo on the side. Holes began to form around the logo as the fire raged on inside.
I was out of film so I called Sandra over to wait for the flames to come through the logo. At the time, Fibrebond’s logo was a rising phoenix. I knew that photo would tell the story better than anything. She got the picture and we stayed up all night getting everything ready and sending the newspaper to press early the next morning.
That fire was probably the last all-nighter I have pulled in my adult life. Sandra’s photo became the moniker for the rebuilding of Fibrebond and after the fire.
The resilience and commitment of the company and its employees to recover and grow following this tragic event was and is a testimony to not only the human spirit, but the people of our community.
David A. Specht Jr. is Editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.