Firestorm October 2017 - The Power of Resilience
On the night of October 8th 2017, fueled by high wind and low humidity, wildfires sparked in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma County, CA. The Tubbs fire, that grew to be the most destructive fire in California history at that time, started in Napa County and tore through ranches and rural communities before jumping a 6 lane freeway into Santa Rosa. It wiped out houses and stores and flattened whole city blocks including a neighborhood called Coffey Park.
The fire burned up about an acre a minute, while winds sent burning embers a half-mile or more ahead. In the end 90,000 people evacuated, over 6,000 homes were lost and over 40 people died. It took 23 days before all the fires could be contained.
When the fires first hit Santa Rosa in the middle of the night, I was living near the area that would later evacuate. I was awake, smelling thick toxic smoke, hearing explosions, and looking at Cal Fire maps trying to figure out where exactly the fire was. Soon after that there was a Facebook post on the fire department page that simply said: "Santa Rosa prepare to evacuate." And then, with no further info available, the power/internet and the cell towers went down. Even so, it was hard for me to imagine the fire was spreading INSIDE the city.
As the weeks progressed, I stayed away from my camera and the land and homes that had been charred. First, because I didn't want to get in the way of the emergency personal. Second, I didn't want to leave my home as the fire was constantly moving and different areas around me were evacuating. Third, I wanted to respect those that were grieving and not show up with a camera in hand.
I am a landscape photographer by trade. I can sit by a tree for three hours till the "right light" happens without worrying what the tree thinks I am doing. But photographing within your community that has just lost homes, landscapes and loved ones is a totally different photographic world.
Because of this, the photos taken were done weeks and months after the initial fires. I was so in awe with how the community came together to support each other, and how the land, totally blackened, came back to life - so I decided to focus my camera on that, on the hope and resilience of our community and the land.
The photos that are taken of the burned homes and neighborhoods, were done either by permission or during public events. I tried to be as respectful as possible, but if your home/property or yourself are in these pictures and you would prefer they not be online, please contact me and they will be removed. Except for the photographs of the parks, these photos are not for sale. However, if any of these are photos of you, your children or your home and you would like free copies, please don't hesitate to contact me. **This gallery is best viewed in full screen mode by clicking on the image and then again on the arrows on the top right corner.