PHOTO ESSAY:The Adobe Building Fire, One Year Ago

As a local Pagosa Springs photographer for over 20 years, I am glad to report that the focus of my job has generally been ‘good news.’ My work is typically people, products and places, at their best. It is very rare for me to seek out accidents or tragedy, crime or criminals, to photograph.

A year ago, on October 22, 2016, I went to my studio, early as usual. As I traveled down Putt Hill, I saw the plumes of smoke, then all the fire engines and all the emergency personnel. My heart sank as I approached and realized what was happening. It was before 8am and the beautiful, clear, fall air was filled with smoke and ash. Ladder trucks were pouring water into the center of the building, and several more hoses were pouring more water into other parts of the structure, while falls of water and debris flowed out into the street…

It was obvious this was a total loss.

As I entered my studio just a few yards from the fire, the strong smell of smoke had permeated inside. I really did not want to go outside to take pictures. After about a half hour I decided to go. I was not anxious to submit my pictures to document the event. I did not even edit them until now. I realize now that the pictures are a moment in our town history.

It is a part of the community that is greatly missed.

The dozens of businesses that occupied the Adobe Building surely feel a tremendous loss. And to think of all the many businesses who were a part of its history in the past… we have memories, and some pictures.

I went a couple more times later in the day as firefighters continued to douse the flames, then early the next day.

There are a few pictures I did not include in this essay. They depict some of our community friends directly affected by the fire. Their sad, exhausted faces were just too much for me to display.

Jeff Laydon

Pagosa Springs photographer Jeff Laydon shoots people, places and products — on location and in his studio. Learn more at PagosaPhotography.com