Thursday, February 26, 2009
Fighting Fire from the Skies...
So, winter in West Texas should be renamed fire season. Every year for the past couple seasons we've been getting really bad brush fires. This year hasn't been too different. The biggest problem is there hasn't been any significant rainfall since October, I think. So the ground is a giant tinderbox. Tuesday's fire was pretty big, about 600 acres burned and threatened a bunch of rural homes. While I was on my way to shoot a basketball game, my boss called me and told me to head to the airport there was an airplane waiting to take me and our videographer, Sarah up to shoot some aerial photos of the fire.
Originally we were supposed to fly at 1,000 feet to shoot the fire that way we could see what was going on on the ground pretty clear. The problem was there were so many Texas Forest Service helicopters and planes in the area we could only get clearance to go over the fire at 4,500 feet. Luckily I had grabbed a 300mm lens to take with me just in case. As we circled over the fire it was amazing to see how much land had been charred by the fire and the huge plumes of smoke. We didn't have a whole lot of time to shoot since the sun was going down fast and had to wait about another 10 minutes after we got in the air just to get clearance to go over the fire. On our last pass I got my best shot of a helicopter dropping water on the fire. I'm glad I brought the 300 with since I got something similar the first time and the helicopter didn't really show up. This was the shot I wanted. While I was flying over I could hear all the chatter of the Forest Service pilots on the radio. It turned out the was the helicopter's last drop too, they left because it was getting too dark too.