Ok picture this…

You are driving down an empty, dark Texas Interstate 20 early on a Thursday morning. It is 3am and you are trying to keep your heavy eye lids open. Suddenly you see a large, bright white 53 foot tractor trailer traveling at 65 miles an hour in your headlight beams. You are going like 80, so you slow down.

As you approach the truck you notice that the words, “GAME CREEK” are painted on the side. “What are they carrying inside that huge trailer?” you ask yourself. Perhaps fresh fruit from California. Maybe it is loaded with pallets of low-flow water saving toilets. Or maybe that truck is full of cheap board games made by a Chinese company called ‘Creek’.

“Who cares…” you mutter out loud as you pass the truck on the left. BUT WAIT… you see red flames coming out of the rear wheel well. THE TRUCK IS ON FIRE!

You instantly awaken from your late-night-drivin-trance and pull up to get the driver’s attention. You yell “FIRE!” and point to the back of the truck. The driver realizes something is wrong and slows down to move over to the highway shoulder.

You slow down, glance at the rear view mirror, see the truck pulled over and the driver running to the back of his rig with great speed holding a large fire extinguisher. You think about stopping, but decide to call 911 instead. You really want to get home to see that new episode of “LOST” waiting on the DVR.

OK fine… this is probably not the way it happened on that lonely Texas highway Thursday April 9th at 3 in the morning… but it makes for a good story…and nobody was hurt.

That truck did not have fruit, toilets or crappy games that were made in China on board. But it could have had a few Sony HDCAM SR decks that each cost almost as much as my house!

Game Creek “Liberty” caught fire in Texas heading from Dallas to Orlando, Fla. The Extent of the damage is still being assessed, but this truck carried almost ten million dollars worth of high definition television equipment and Pat Sullivan (owner and president of Game Creek) was quoted saying the fire was “pretty bad. It’s fair to say it was pretty serious.”

I wrote a blog several months back on this brand new high-end television truck while I set up to shoot the Major League Lacrosse all-star game at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. The truck was made to work college football for ESPN and ABC in Atlanta. I was very excited to check out this state-of-the-art mobile production beast while it made a stop near me and I took a bunch of pictures. This was the second show “Liberty” had ever worked! You can read the original blog by clicking here.

I loved that truck. It was perfect in every way. The floor plan was well designed, the monitor wall was nicely laid out and everything was brand new and cutting edge. I still remember that “new truck smell”.

Game Creek designed “Liberty” on paper. Sunbury, Ohio-based Gerling built her and Little Bay Broadcast Services of Madbury, N.H., added all the equipment and cabling. I got to meet some of these guys while working on the truck at Harvard. They were so very proud of the rolling television station on wheels.

The 53-foot, double-expando was outfitted with the latest in production equipment, including a Grass Valley HD Kalypso switcher, Pesa routing, Sony cameras, Vinten panheads, Canon lenses, several EVS channels, a Chyron Duet option, a Calrec Bluefin Alpha and other very expensive television gear.

Game Creek Liberty Fire

One silver lining with this story… I remember packing my camera and putting it in a different support truck during strike. I have been reminded that the Sony HDC-1500 HD cameras, expander sleds, the Vinten Vector 750 pan heads, tripods and other valuable gear was stored on the B-unit truck, which did not suffer any damage. I will find out more on exactly what was destroyed, so stay tuned to this page for updates.

I am sure Pat Sullivan is dealing with the insurance company now and eventually this truck will be rebuilt. I must say that this is not just a devastating loss to all who have great respect for this caliber of equipment, but this is a slap in the face to the people at Little Bay who sat tirelessly in a crouched position running the miles of perfectly timed length cable and terminating the thousands of ends. At least they have more work slated and will get to do it again!

The truck is currently in a tow yard in Longview, Texas getting checked out by the insurance adjusters. I bet that “new truck smell” is gone now. By the way, joking around is how I morn a great loss.

Thanks to Deborah D. McAdams at Television Broadcast for the information in this blog post.