October 21st, 1973 — There was a time when scenes of crime or disasters weren’t immediately sealed from the public and the media. This fire at the Commercial Hotel on Cambie Street was out by 7am on a Sunday morning when I arrived to take pictures. There was no one in the building so I wandered around inside photographing until Sandor Szabo, a tenant, came in, stopped in front of his room, then calmly went inside and put on his socks which he hadn’t had time to put on when he left quickly when the fire started. Today this man would be surrounded by social workers helping him cope with his grief and pictures like this would be considered invasions of his privacy. In the 1970’s people just got on with their lives. Five people died in the fire which had been deliberately set.
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