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Photography Business Destroyed In Lockport Fire

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Stephenson Photography

Stephenson Photography is one of the businesses destroyed in a fire in Lockport. (CBS)

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LOCKPORT, Ill. (CBS) – In a devastating fire in Lockport, flames consumed an entire building in the historic business section of the city. One hundred firefighters fought those flames early Wednesday morning.

There have been no reports of any injuries. But losses from the fire are substantial, and in some cases: irreplaceable. CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez reports.

What would you grab if you were in a fire? Time after time, people will say their photographs. CBS 2 talked to a business owner who lost not only their own memories but those of countless others here in their hometown of Lockport.

Mary Pierson and her husband Tom say their business, Stephenson Photography, may be a total loss.

“The people of Lockport are supporting us,” said Mary Pierson. “We’re hoping that maybe some of the data on our hard drive can be retrieved.”

The data is three decades worth of pictures documenting the lives of their customers. Most recently, high school seniors, that appear on Stephenson’s Facebook page.

“It’s not only our livelihood, it’s people’s histories. They’re just not here anymore,” said Pierson.

The photographs were destroyed by huge flames.

As the Piersons made notes and calls, firefighters removed the dangerous wooden trusses of the building that housed three other businesses: an insurance agency, clothing store and bowling alley. All were empty at the time of the fire.

But, as firefighters discovered, not an apartment next door.

“As they were making their way in, they heard a female voice inside screaming for help. They were able to get inside, find her and her husband was behind her, and lead them out to safety,” said Lockport Fire Chief Dave Skoryi. “We’re really proud of our guys.”

And the Piersons want to share a painful lesson: back up your photo files.

“My own son never ordered a wedding album,” said Pierson. “The wedding was 10 years ago, and they were just going through all the proofs, getting ready to order. Now their negatives are gone.”

Fire investigators don’t know what caused the fire, or even where it started. But with much of the damaged roof out of the way, they can make much more progress.

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