On Feb. 25, 2011, fire engulfed the NAPA Auto Parts building in the 300 block of E. Walnut, Nevada. From inside the burning building, tanks filled with combustible materials popped with a harsh clanging sound. Outside, heavy smoke blanketed the area, its stench and shadow reaching across the downtown area for several blocks. People were evacuated from homes and businesses nearby, and power outages put surrounding businesses and homes in the darkness for varying periods of time. By 6 p.m., it was clear the building would be a total loss, despite the efforts of firefighters from many area fire departments that came to assist Nevada's firefighters with the battle against the raging inferno.
At the Nevada Daily Mail, James R. Campbell was sent to the scene first and reported back to the office, where Daily Mail editor Lynn A. Wade was awaiting news of the scope of the event. It was spreading quickly, and reporter/photographer Ralph Pokorny was dispatched to the scene. Wade put the early news on the Nevada Daily Mail's Web site, and by then evacuations had begun, so she went to the Franklin P. Norman Community Center to get the behind-the-scenes impact on the residents who'd left their homes behind.
Over the course of the evening, power outages struck at the Daily Mail as well, but the news gathering went on; others in the office listened to the scanner and recorded times when new events happened, supplementing the work of those in the field.
In the end, firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to any nearby structures, evacuees returned home, and the report that would end up earning a First Place, Breaking News, Class 2 Weeklies from the Missouri Press Association in September filled the pages of the Weekend Herald-Tribune. The award went to Pokorny, Campbell and Wade. The accompanying photos earned Pokorny a First Place, Best Photo Package honor in the same category.
"This award is special to the Daily Mail, because it's one that really reflects a team effort. We're proud to have been able to bring the readers extensive, relevant coverage of this event, and it wouldn't have happened without the efforts of everyone involved -- including Lifestyles Editor Sharyon Duke, who helped behind the scenes and the rest of the crew at the Daily Mail who have a hand in bringing the news to your mailbox five days a week," Wade said.
Six other awards were presented to the Daily Mail and Herald-Tribune at the Sept. 22 awards banquet in Columbia, Mo.
Second place, Best News Story, Class 2 Weeklies, went to Campbell for his Sept. 11 retrospective, "Nevadans reflect on 'day of terror." Campbell also won a honorable mention for Best Story About History, Class 1 Dailies, for a historical piece about lady bushwhackers.
Third place, Best Photo Package, Class 1 Dailies, went to Pokorny and Rusty Murry, for a photo spread about the Patriot Flag's visit to Nevada. Pokorny also won an honorable mention for Best Sports Photograph, Class 1 Dailies.
Third place and honorable mention honors went to the Herald-Tribune for Best Sports Pages, Class 2 Weeklies, along with an honorable mention for Best Sports Feature Story, Class 2 Weeklies.