The winners of the 2014 Texas Newspaper Directory Cover Contest are Jeff Pownall and Jessica Cooley of the Lufkin Daily News. "We, along with the Lufkin Fire Department, were excited to be selected this year," Pownall said. "We would like to thank everyone who voted for our entry." Their photo, taken around 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, depicts a fire that erupted about a mile away from their office. On her way to the scene, Cooley recalls seeing thick, black smoke rolling up in the sky. "When I began shooting the fire, I became so engrossed in how the fire was moving that all the commotion around me disappeared," Cooley said. "Through my lens it was just me, Lufkin Fire Captains Mark Sitka, Chris Clemens and the fire."
Cooley sat from a low angle taking photos across the street from roughly 30 feet away – the flames added even more heat to an already hot August day. "I got as close to the ground as possible and shot up, attempting to get as much as possible of fire rolling out of the eaves and up into the sky as Sitka and Clements began the fight," she said. "It wasn't until I had taken the photo selected for the cover that I realized maybe I was too close for comfort and moved back, behind the safety of a tree."
When she returned back to their office, she began looking at the photos. "Through the lens, I was able to get the full destructive force of one of the most intense fires I will probably ever see in my career," she said. Lufkin Daily News Editor, Andy Adams, suggested Cooley and Layout Editor, Jeff Pownall, put together a cover entry for this contest. "I looked through the images that Jessica shot several times, and I always came back to this one," Pownall said. "Almost anyone can take a picture, but not everybody can tell a story. And this was a great story about a devastating fire and how a 5-year-old girl saved her sleeping family. While the family lost everything, they still had each other. The outcome could have been much more grim." Adapting it as their cover entry wasn't a difficult decision, Pownall said. "I kept the design fairly simple and got out of the way so that the image could tell the story."