10 Unbelievable Wildfire Photos

1.  The shocking photos from a California wildfire that is growing at an “almost unprecedented” rate


As of this writing, the Sand Fire has scorched more than 33,000 acres, or about 52 square miles, in the Santa Clarita area of the Angeles National Forest. 3000 firefighters are battling the blaze which is still only 10% contained.

Incident commander Chief Mike Wakoski describes the fire as “almost unprecedented. It has averaged about 10,000 acres per day,” he said. “An acre is a football field, so imagine that—10,000 football fields per day.”

The fire is burning on hillsides left dry after five years of drought in California. A strong El Niño weather pattern failed to deliver rain during the 2015-16 winter, raising concerns about what could be one of the worst fire seasons on record.

Check out the mesmerizing and terrifying time lapse of the fire below:

(Source 1 | Source 2)

2  The photographer who creates stunning, long exposure images of California wildfires


LA-based photographer Stuart Palley shoots fires as they rage across Southern California as part of a series he calls Terra Flamma. (He’s currently shooting the Sand Fire!)

Palley focuses on the entire landscape of a fire, instead of capturing only flames or firefighters. His technique? Long exposures with trails of sparks, the lights of firefighting aircraft, and even the stars above all play a part in his images, which speak more to the strange beauty of wildfires than simple editorial documentation.

The image above is of the El Portal Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park on July 27, 2014. (Source)

3  A firefighter takes the ultimate wildfire photo


John McColgan, a Bureau of Land Management firefighter, took the above photo on August 6th, 2000 while fighting fires in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Little did he know the image would become the most famous wildfire photo ever taken.

McColgan, a fire behavior analyst who is employed by the Alaska Fire Service, was standing on a bridge over the East Fork of the Bitterroot River when he shot the photo with his Kodak DC280 digital camera. McColgan described the experience: “That’s a once-in-a-lifetime look there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it ranks in the top three days of fire behavior I’ve seen.”

McColgan was working while he took the picture, and couldn’t profit from it in any way, but he’s glad to be recognized for his work. (Source)

4  The grandparents who saved their five children from a raging wildfire

Dunalley fire 5 Dunalley fire 5 Dunalley fire 1

In 2013, as their town burned down around them, Australian grandparents Tim And Tammy Holmes saved their five young grandchildren by clinging to a jetty while the flames raged around them. (Tim took photos to let his daughter know that her children were alive.)

The family sheltered themselves in the water from the “tornadoes of fire“ roaring through the town of Dunalley, Tasmania, which was destroyed in the blaze. The inferno threatened to consume the jetty as well, but Holmes put out the encroaching flames with sea water. After roughly three hours, he located a dinghy and used it to ferry the family to safety. (Source)

5  The photographer who has been shooting wildfires for 20 years for National Geographic


National Geographic staff photographer Mark Thiessen, who has training as a firefighter, has been photographing wildfires for almost 20 years. He loves to “get to see one of nature’s fiercest forces up close and personal. It’s not crazy exciting all the time—it’s actually full of boredom, peppered with insane activity. But the secret to getting good fire pictures is to be out there a lot, because you never know what’s going to happen next.” (Source)

6  The photographers who caught an arsonist in the act


In July 2016, photographers Jeff Zimmerman and Bernie Deyo took photos and video of a suspected arsonist setting fires in Neenach, California, a small community 34 miles northwest of Lancaster.

Zimmerman said the man was yelling “spot fires, spot fires,” and as he started several blazes. “He ran through the wall of flames several times, screaming and yelling,” the photographer said.

As firefighters tried to douse the flames, Zimmerman, and the man’s mother, tried to subdue him to stop him from setting any more fires. The suspected arsonist, 27-year-old David Artiaga, was jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail. (Source)

7  A photo that captures the beauty and danger of a raging wildfire


Wildfires ravaged parts Washington state in 2014. This blaze was captured by photographer Michael Stanford near Leavenworth, Washington, and Lake Wenatchee. Stanford’s amazing photo shows the raw, deadly power of a wildfire as it consumes everything in sight.

Studies have attributed wildfires to man-made climate change, and the U.S. government can’t keep up—it is quickly burning through its firefighting budget as an expanded fire season now burns twice as many acres each year than it did in the ’70s. (Source)

8  The wildfire that served as the perfect backdrop for wedding photos


A brush fire turned wildfire cut an Oregon wedding ceremony short in 2014, but not before the newlyweds said: “I do.”

Michael Wolber and April Hartley were told to evacuate by firefighters, who rolled up to Rock Spring Ranch near Bend. They managed to exchange vows quickly and pose for the above photo before doing so. Once the image hit Facebook, it went viral, and it racked up more than 100,000 likes and 10,000 shares. (Source)

9  An entire town of 80,000 is evacuated in the most costly fire in Alberta, Canada’s history


In May 2016, a massive wildfire forced the evacuation of the entire population of the Canadian city of Fort McMurray. That’s right—80,000 people.

The fire, which spread across approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres), destroyed 2,400 homes and buildings and forced the largest wildfire evacuation in Albertan history. It was declared under control on July 5, 2016, but will still take months to extinguish fully.

The Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police monitor the Fort McMurray Wildfire above. (Source)

10  A climber takes a selfie near a raging wildfire


Climber Stuke Sowle got up close and personal to the Cougar Creek Wildfire on the north side of Mount Adams in Washington state in 2015. (Source)

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