Last week I heard a call over the scanner about a grass fire behind a trailer park in a field formerly the site of a drive-in theater south of town. Lots of times these turn out to be relatively minor and are put out quickly. Not so, in this case. I arrived at the scene soon after the call and spotted a number of residents from the trailer park running around with hoses and shovels trying to keep the blaze away from their homes. Fire crews started attacking the perimeter soon after, and it seemed they would have it under control without too much damage. Unfortunately, the winds picked up and carried the flames into the hills covered in sagebrush and grasses. The fire grew to over a 1,000 acres, and it took crews a few days to finally get under control.
Covering wildfires usually presents a conundrum – you don’t know what the fire is going to do so you don’t want to/are blocked from getting too close, yet you need to get close enough to make compelling pictures and show what’s happening. I hiked quite a bit around the trailer park and surrounding hills trying to find the right combination of access, distance, and activity. Along the way, I was kicked out of a number of spots and had to rely a lot on long lenses. As a few more (unrelated) fires have sprung up in the past few days, I have a feeling I’m going to be reeking of smoke throughout the rest of the summer.