COLORADO SPRINGS — Most firefighters don't win local Emmy awards, but Steve Schopper is not the average firefighter. He's an audio-video specialist for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and he is a volunteer lieutenant with the Manitou Springs Fire Department.
The 61-year-old Schopper's footage, used in The Denver Post documentary "The Fireline: Wildfire in Colorado," won a local Emmy in the Heartland chapter — which encompasses a five-state region — on July 12 for public/current/community affairs.
"When the Waldo Canyon fire was going down, I was in our fire department operations centers," Schopper said. "I looked at (then-Fire Chief) Tommy Smith. I said, 'I think this is a historical event in Colorado Springs. I think I need to be out there documenting it.' "
With the chief's permission, that's exactly what the 38-year fire service veteran did.
Schopper's footage of firefighters saving homes attracted nationwide attention.
A connection with a Denver Post photographer during a tour of the burned Mountain Shadows neighborhood led to much of Schopper's footage being used in the 30-minute documentary.
The video documented how fires had blazed through Colorado neighborhoods, killing residents and causing unprecedented destruction.
Online: To see The Denver Post's Emmy- winning report, go to denverpost.com/fireline