Small Town Photojournalism

A Photo Blog by Matthew Jonas

Covering Wildfires From The Air

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© Times-Call 2012/© MediaNews Group 2012

Colorado is having one of its driest seasons in years. Along with the high temperatures and lack of rainfall comes an increased risk of fire danger. June has been a bad month for Colorado. There have been so many wildfires I have lost count. One of the ways that we cover the fires is from the air. Yesterday I hopped on a plane to cover 2 fires, one in Estes Park and the other west of Ft. Collins, the High Park Fire.

It was an interesting experience. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to hang out the side of a plane and try to make pictures. To go on top of the wind, smell of smoke and bumpy ride, I was also trying to hand hold a 400mm lens. It was a lot to try and deal with at 13,000 feet.

The Estes Park fire destroyed 21 structures near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. It appears that the fire started in a structure and quickly spread to surrounding trees and other structures. If it weren’t for the helicopters operating at the High Park Fire, it would have been a lot worse. The fire was under control only a couple hours after it started.

It’s difficult to fully digest how big the High Park Fire is. The smoke billows into the atmosphere and the scorched landscape seems to trail on forever. I watched the slurry bombers try unsuccessfully to change the course of the fire. Every once in a while the color of the smoke within the fire would change from white to yellow or black. It was likely that the fire had come across another structure and began to consume it. As of this posting the High Park Fire had destroyed 191 homes.

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

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Written by Matthew Jonas

June 24, 2012 at 9:25 am

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