The first summer I was living here I had my first encounter with forest fires. Although it was across the lake it was only about 10 km away. And it was awesome! And nerve wracking. Everyday it was the first thing you checked. And everyday, I cleaned ash from my window ledges.
As someone who saw these photographs said. ‘So beautiful for something so frightening.’
I was able to photograph the fire everyday for the two weeks it burned. At first I was hesitant to approach the area as it was threatening a small community. But residents told me to record it. So that is what I did.
After the fire was extinguished, due to very hard work, I held a show for the community and gave them copies of photographs they liked. Somehow selling the photos didn’t seem right after the threat they had been under. I was also asked to provide Forestry with all my photos, over 800, as they were date and time stamped. It gave them a record of the fire and the fight.
I have tried to show these photos in the order they were taken. So “enjoy” if that is the right word.
This was the afternoon just before it blew up.
That evening I left the house to go for a walk, and turned to see this!
Hesitantly I headed down to the beach, not wanting to appear ghoulish. Of course, when I got there everyone else was there with cameras and binoculars watching.
Over the evening several helicopters arrived and a couple of airplanes, dropping water and assessing the situation. You can see the spotter plane in the background.
Over the next few days the big guns arrived including the Martin Mars plane which had been working on the fire in the Okanagan. This was a very bad summer for fires in BC.
The arrival of the Martin a Mars with its special fire retardant was a big surprise.I pulled off the highway really fast to get the first shots!
In the morning quite often the fire had damped down, only to rebuild as the day’s breezes grew.
The Martin Mars would come up the lake, skimming over the surface to fill up its tanks. A job that requires great skill. One morning while in my kayak, I spotted it coming and started shooting. It took a long time for it to start to become clear through the smoke.
The big helicopters had what is essentially a vacuum. This sucked up the water to fill their tanks while they hovered over the creeks and river. It took only a couple of minutes to fill the tanks and then they would be off.
The he smaller helicopters had ‘bags’ with which they scooped the water from the river. It seemed like such a small volume of water for such a fire. But their relentless efforts paid off.
These next photos show the power and beauty of the fire….
And the Martin Mars kept going.
As I mentioned, I took a lot of photographs and met a lot of amazing people. While it was exciting and beautiful, each summer since then, I watch the mountains and valleys and hope for rain.