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A Community Reporting on Itself

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, June 04, 2009, at 08:32AM
Twittered Fire Photo Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Tuesday night, a fire broke out in the Arts District, doors down from Urth Caffe and the Barker Block lofts. The blaze destroyed the one-story building before it was extinguished an hour later, but in the process it also acted to illustrate what I see as the power of community news.

The fire was the second time in a week in which we've been able to piece breaking news together in part thanks to the community that follows blogdowntown on twitter.

Last Thursday, a car crashed into the Bank of America at 7th and Figueroa. Ed Fuentes was on scene, but while he was gathering information, much of our first report was pieced together from twitter.

On Tuesday, I was sitting at my computer when I saw the Los Angeles Fire Department report the smoke on Twitter and then upgrade the situation to a "major incident".

After futilely checking my roof to see if I had line of sight to the location, I sent this out on blogdowntown's twitter account:

Fire at 431 S. Hewitt, a few doors down from Urth. Anyone live at Barker Block to give an on-scene report?

Within minutes, Katie Kay of Skin.Graft sent a twitter reply with a photo of the fire:

@blogdowntown eric, barker resident here, but at LAX now-- boyfriend sent this over. Crazy! http://yfrog.com/bhe0kj

I was able to pass that message along to blogdowntown readers, as well as a later report fro LAFD that the fire has been knocked down.

It is a pretty remarkable thought to me that of the more than 1100 of you following blogdowntown on twitter, there's a good chance that one or more of you will see just about anything that happens Downtown. So help us out... Drop us tips... Let's work together to tell Downtown's story.

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