Winner 2000

48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire

CBS News

On December 3, 1999, a fire accidentally started by a homeless couple raged through a vacant warehouse in Worchester, Massachusetts, claiming the lives of six firefighters and shattering a community. This horrifying event stunned the nation, and for most of the press corps, that was where the story ended. However, for 48 Hours, it was the beginning of a six-month examination of the fire’s causes and a heart-wrenching personal look at the fallen heroes and their grieving families. In 48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire, anchor Dan Rather and correspondent Bill Lagattuta carefully examined how a small fire managed to grow into a killer inferno despite the use of standard fire-fighting procedures followed by the Worchester fire department. In a strange turn of events, the painful tale of the tragedy became intertwined with an uplifting second story involving the arrest of the homeless couple and a surprising link to an adoptive family from Maine. After this riveting story aired, hundreds of firefighters nationwide said the program had served as a “wake-up call” for reviewing their own safety procedures and policies. Joan Adelman, Anthony Batson, Richard Barber, Peter Henderson, Kathleen O’Connelly, and Doreen Schecter produced this exceptional program with 48 Hours executive producer Susan Zirinsky and senior producer Al Briganti. Barry Leibowitz wrote the piece and Rob Klug directed. For the first rate reporting involved in this moving, inspiring and heartbreaking account, a Peabody Award goes to 48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire.