The Auburn Journal’s 49 Fire coverage has taken a first-place award in a nationwide editorial competition. The Suburban Newspapers of America announced the winners this week, awarding the Journal Best Breaking News Story for News Editor Jenifer Gee’s “Fire destroys homes,” which appeared online the night of the devastating blaze and the following day in the paper. “When the 49 Fire broke out, our first concern was for our community,” Executive Editor Deric Rothe said. “Many of our readers, and the fire’s victims, are friends and family. We quickly assembled our own strike team and went to work covering the blaze and its effects both online and in print. I am very proud of then-reporter Jenifer Gee, photographer Michael Kirby and weekend page designer-copy editor Gloria Young, all of whom were working overtime on that Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009.Serving our readers, especially during a crisis, is our job. Doing our job well for our community is more important than winning awards. But it’s still pretty cool to be recognized by our peers.” Journal Publisher Tony Hazarian also was honored, taking a third-place award for Best Column Writing. His winning columns included “To all fathers: One day isn’t too much to ask,” June 21; “Got government fatigue? Forget it for the Fourth,” July 1; and “Relay for Life is personal, public way to fight back,” Aug. 12. The annual competition draws thousands of entries in six circulation categories. Judging was done by the Journalism Department of Loyola University Chicago, School of Communications. Suburban Newspapers of America is headquartered in Michigan and represents more than 2,000 publications.