Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was one of "those" things, a situation that happens every once in a while, kind of a rookie mistake that I still, after 30+ years, make.

I was leaving Lowes, happy that I was only going to have to go there once for this project, when I looked up and saw a large header off to the south. I figured that it was the hills south of town burning an area that usually provides pretty good photography and is only 15 minutes or so from my home.

As I had nothing going that couldn't be done the next day, I headed for the hills. When I got closer to the hills, I saw that the fire was probably in the next set of hills, a little farther south. Only another 15 minutes or so farther, what the heck - it's just gas.

Of course as I got closer, the fire got farther. It ended up being in Lake Elsinore, an area I hardly ever go to to photograph fires. I got through the CHP roadblock and saw that CalFire/Riverside County had things pretty much in hand.

A traffic accident on the freeway had ignited a brush fire that had spread pretty rapidly. I think it got up to around 25 acres or so before being contained. A lot of exposures had kept the county folks busy. When I got there, the most active area was an equipment/material storage area that had been ignited by the brush fire. A pile of large tractor tires and another large area of plastic drainage pipe was going pretty good and sending a billowing column of black smoke into the air. A great opportunity for me.

Though no units from my department were there, I got a few decent shots of the county getting it done.

As all of this stuff was in the middle of the burn, it probably wasn't as critical as controlling the spread of the fire. About the time it became top priority, I was able to get there.

A pretty long lay from a hydrant allowed them to use a master stream, though the piled up material presented a challenge.

Fortunately, they had the right tools for the job.

CalFire operates a bunch of dozers throughout the state, there are a couple in our county. They are a great tool to have.

CalFire also operates helicopters, two of which were on this fire. This is my favorite shot of the day, copter 902 dropping on the burning tires.

Despite tools, toys and technology, it's still boots on the ground that eventually finishes off the dragon.

As the opportunity for dramatic images waned, so did my desire to be there. I was getting tired and thirsty, so I drove the 45 minutes back home. Mop-up on this fire took many hours, I'm guessin' there were units ther till midnight or so. Better them than me - poor bastards.

Though it was my misjudgement on where this fire actually was that got me there, I'm glad I went. It was worth the drive.

Thanks for reading,



  1. The top shot is neat. It's art (and I mean that in a good way, not in a "make up an ol' thing and a modern art museum will exhibit it" way). The burning tires look kinda pretty, and the smoke looks oddly solid and a cool shape. Then the firefighters talking to each other. I just like it.

    What's a "master stream?"

    Thanks for writing.

  2. Good to see some fresh posts from you. Hope retirement is treating you well

  3. Wayne - Thanks - A master stream is one that is too large to be held by hand, based on flow. An appliance is used, either a monitor affixed to a vehicle, a portable monitor, or in places like a refinery, one fixed to a building or a fire protection system. Another definition is any flow over 500 gallons per minute (if I remember correctly). In this case, it would be the monitor attache to the top of the engine.

    John - retirement is treating me very well!

    Joe - Thanks as always!

    Thanks everyone for sticking around and the comments.

  4. I'm glad you got it all handled. Great photos! Be safe!