'Fire and Ice' video recalls 1963 St. Vincent College blaze
Through scratchy, 50-year-old film footage, firefighters spray water onto black smoke billowing from leaping flames trying to consume St. Vincent College.
The silent 9 1⁄2-minute reel is the centerpiece for what became an award-winning film, “Fire and Ice,” produced by St. Vincent to commemorate the Jan. 28, 1963, fire that engulfed five buildings and severely damaged two others, said David Safin, director of multimedia services at the college.
“We built this narrative around this footage,” he said of the 15-minute documentary retelling the story of the blaze that started in the biology building during near-record low temperatures.
The flames caused $3 million in damage and destroyed some science collections , but there were no major injuries.
Thirty fire departments fought the blaze, including Latrobe, led by Chief Earl Dalton, and Greensburg Chief Edward Hutchinson. The latter is featured in the DVD commemorating the 50th anniversary of the fire.
The video, which won a bronze Telly Award, was a “team effort,” said Kim Metzgar, director of archabbey and seminary public relations.
The marketing awards, given to submissions judged against standards for excellence, are not easy to come by, said Safin, who edited the film and did voice-over work.
“The Telly Awards, in my experience, have been the ones that are hardest to win,” he said.
He submitted “Fire and Ice” in the history category.
Safin worked with St. Vincent historian Jerome Oetgen, who wrote the script with his brother, Al Oetgen, who has broadcast experience with NBC News.
Of the dozen or so videos Safin has submitted for Telly Awards, given since 1978, this is the only one that came away a winner, he said.
“I was really pleased,” he said, calling the story of the fire and the rebuilding of the campus “a legacy video.”
“It was really special for me to get to make it,” Safin said.
Work on the film took place between August and November 2012. It was shown at a dinner in January to commemorate the 50th anniversary.
Safin said he has produced 300 to 400 videos, many for the college website, but has received the most positive feedback for this film.
“Fire and Ice” not only uses the archival footage and photos to explain the blaze, but also contrasts the devastation felt that night with the sense of pride that comes from how the college has developed since, Metzgar said.
“It's a story of rebirth and regrowth,” she said.
Safin agreed, saying the video is meant to honor firefighters who dealt with extreme conditions to help save St. Vincent and the efforts since then to establish a vision for the college.
“It's not about that moment. It's about what we did after it,” he said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Trail between St. Vincent College, Latrobe a step closer to reality
- Derry plan would bypass failing bridge
- Greater Latrobe, Derry Area high school students offer ideas for economic growth
- Palmer airport eyes $2M state grant to improve terminal access
- Alcoholic beverage sales canceled for summer concerts in Latrobe’s Keener Park