We notice the structural decisions Anton made in this piece. His first two sections summarize the narrative: Fire fighters are caught by a sudden blaze, and twelve men die. With the third section Anton backs up and begins revisiting the story in more detail. (At this point we know basically what’s going to happen but want to know more about how.) Anton ends the third section with a mini-cliffhanger—and having left us in suspense, digresses in the fourth section for background on fires and safety regulations. The fifth section brings us back to high drama. The sixth is a flash forward in the lives of more minor characters, made possible by the summary lead (since he’s told his readers what happens, he can take us forward for more about the aftermath of the fire). The seventh section brings us back to the chronology and the denouement, the main character’s struggle with his role in the deaths of crew members.
Read “Loss and Rebirth in a ’66 Fire,” by Mike Anton