Wednesday, July 14
Today, at around 4:45 p.m. I left work and decided to drive the 13 miles to Carson City to see if I could get some pictures of the fire that had been burning since 3 a.m. that morning. Smoke billowed throughout the day, and now the wind had begun to pick up, but I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
They're calling it the "Waterfall Fire", due to the fact that it originated in an area peppered with many beautiful waterfalls. It will be very interesting to see what's left in this terrible fire's wake.
I've placed thumbnails on this page .. none of them represent the entire photo. I figured this would be a quicker load for those of you on dialups. I wanted to post this page so that people not in this area might be able to see what's going on.Also, I wanted to post it as a sort of "thank you" to those risking their lives for those in danger. I'll post more photos if I take them. If you click on the thumbnails, you will be able to view the full images. And, before anyone asks, I didn't take any of these for possible sale or potential financial gain. I put my Geminai watermark on them so that others were unable to take the photos and use them in any capacity I did not intend. I've never experienced anything like this in my life, and I wanted to share as much of the experience with you as I could.
At about 8 p.m., according to the news, there were 10 homes, 2 outbuildings and 2 businesses lost, several injured firefighters, 57 helicopters, 12 air tankers and over 500 firefighters battling this MAN-MADE blaze! National/Federal support (both human and machine, from what I understand) is due tomorrow.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.
The view of Carson City from just outside city limits.
I went down a back street of Carson (one block away from Hwy 395), and went as far as I could. As you can see, the police were blocking the way and diverting traffic. It was so hard to breathe, and my throat is still raw. I covered my face with my shirt, but it didn't really help. There was ash and fiery heat and smoke thick in the air, as you can see.
Suddenly, I looked to my left and realized that part of the fire was right there .. hundreds of yards away! Next thing I knew, the fire engines came, and the police chased me away. They didn't have to tell me twice.
So I drove down the block and parked where these people were. I didn't realize until a few minutes later that these poor people had just watched their house ... their entire lives ... burn to the ground. I asked them if they had a place to stay and were ok, and the lady started crying so I just held onto her for a minute, and then I started crying, too. I was so torn .. I am so very sorry for their loss, but I also felt it important to document what was happening. As we were holding onto one another and crying, the explosions started. I was told they were automobiles. I felt so sorry for the man in the gray T-Shirt .. he apparently just bought a new truck and kept lamenting, "We should have moved the cars! We should have taken the cars!" His friend (in the yellow shirt) told him, "There was nothing we could do .. we were trying to save the house. There was nothing we could do." One small consolation was that their children were safely with their grandparents (and I believe I overheard that the family pet made it there, as well) ... at least one thing they didn't have to worry about at that moment. I can't even begin to imagine what they have gone through or will continue to go through. If anyone knows them, please pass along my most sincere condolences. It's my understanding that there were hundreds of evacuees at the shelter tonight, many mourning the loss of their homes, or worrying about that very thing.
It didn't take long before I was ushered out of there by the police, as well, as they were closing down a large portion of Hwy 395. You couldn't see or breathe .. it was miserable. So I went up onto the hill on the outskirts of Carson City for a while to catch my breath, and get some shots of some of the machines that were flying into the fire. I don't even know how they could possibly see where they were going half of the time!
Once I was amply rested and ready to brave the smoke again, I ended up going back closer into Carson City, via a different back road, and came upon this hill (behind Albertson's, for those who are familiar with the area). The second to the last photo in this series is probably the best illustration of what these brave pilots were flying into. It must have been completely chaotic. I can't even fathom the bravery of those people.
All of a sudden, the wind shifted and within the merest matter of minutes, this entire hill was on fire. I could see firefighters up there running ... I imagine that won't show up in these photos, as my camera doesn't have a very powerful zoom. They did manage to get this hill under control ... how, I still don't even know. They are true heroes, in my opinion. At this point, my pounding head was getting the best of me and my parched throat was screaming, so I turned to make my way back to 395 and the road home.
However, on my way down the hill, I caught sight of these brave folks getting ready to head on into the flames. To them, and to everyone else who has vowed to risk their lives for others around them, I say simply ... too simply, but it's all I can come up with ... THANK YOU!
Click here to see photos of Carson City the following day.