Shooting on the Edge of Hell

  • Aug 10, 2014 9:55pm GMT

Recently, fire ravaged more than four thousand acres in the northern California counties of El Dorado and Amador where the fire known as the Sand Fire destroyed 20 homes and 47 buildings.

This was only one of many fires which has consumed more than two million acres in the drought plagued West.

Photographer Keith Breazeal takes us into the fire storm and gives us a unique perspective of the ferocious battle to tame the wicked flames by all means possible.

On the Fire Line

It’s terrifying.

It has no respect for life or material possessions.

What lures a photographer to a raging forest fire? Me, I’m looking for the ultimate photo of Man battling pure Hell.

On a fire line is the last place anybody should want to be, yet I find there is an eerie attraction that draws me closer. As the hissing sound and acrid smell of burning grass and brush fill my senses, I see vague figures through the dense smoke.

Now is the time to start shooting photos. Capturing moments when fire fighters are chainsawing burning trees, digging a fuel break, running hose lines, and battling flames is where some of the best fire photos originate.

My goal is to provoke an emotional response from a photo.

I tend to shoot a lot of the fire fighting aircraft working the fire, but I’m always looking for that chance to be up close with a ground crew.

However, safety is the first priority.

The last thing you want to do is get into a situation where you need assistance. When I go into a fire area, I always tell somebody on the scene where I’ll be.

Here in California, we are dealing with extremely dry fuels and higher than normal lightning strikes. Our water supplies are running low as the drought continues.

On the last fire, I watched several helicopters get water from a very large pond. By the end of the day, I could see a noticeable drop in it’s water level.

Another year of drought will spell disaster.

Follow Keith on Facebook, Flickr and his website.