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Looking back at the Griffith Park fire of 2007

Three years ago a fire swept through parts of Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles. On this day for whatever reason I had brought my camera in to work. I was glad I did. From the rooftop of my workplace, we could see this during the day:

Griffith Park fire from a rooftop in Santa Monica

Griffith Park fire from a rooftop in Santa Monica

This looked big, and it was the first time I had seen a fire this close. Usually area fires had been far away in the San Gabriel Mountains or elsewhere away from the center of the city. Borrowing a telephoto lens for the night, the view became much more dramatic. Tragically the buildings and smoke are slightly out of focus in the series of shots I took from the rooftop at night.

Griffith Park fire gives an apocalyptic glow behind the buildings of Century City

Griffith Park fire gives an apocalyptic glow behind the buildings of Century City

Having seen this, and knowing that the park was surrounded by the city, I decided that this would probably be the safest fire I could chase with my camera that I’ll probably ever see. So, with a friend of mine along for the ride, we set out to check out this crazy sight.

A surreal alien firey landscape

A surreal alien firey landscape

What we saw blew our minds. I had seen fires in the past on TV but to see one with my own eyes was something else. It was insane. Whole hillsides right behind residential neighborhoods were black with glowing red embers. It looked like a mountain of lava with dark alien trees growing from it (where there were some left).

A neighborhood's light and power silhouetted against the firey landscape

A neighborhood's light and power silhouetted against the firey landscape

Hotspot in a forest of embers

Hotspot in a forest of embers

View of a red planet

View of a red planet

It was just surreal.

The fire and the freeway

The fire and the freeway

Our last stop was on the bridge of Los Feliz blvd over the 5 freeway. Here thousands of people were just driving on by the burning hillsides going about their business. Dozens of local Angelino’s were hanging out on the bridge under a rain of ash watching the action unfold and taking pictures. Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I noticed during the Station Fire last year that everyone I encountered was super friendly and helpful, giving me tips on where to shoot from safely.

As we get into the hot summer months I am sincerely hoping that we don’t have a repeat of last years devastating fire season.

June 10, 2010 - 5:36 pm

Kristen - Hi, Kurt! Those are some awesome and frightening pictures. I hope you guys don’t have to go through that again this summer.

June 11, 2010 - 9:20 pm

Nancy Culbertson - Kurt, You photographs and story could be in National Geographic.
Your pictures are amazing.

June 14, 2010 - 4:43 pm

Mark E - Kurt!
Amazing Photography! Keep up the great work.

May 3, 2012 - 10:47 am

John N. Maclean - Kurt,
Great photos. What is the status of the photos now? Have they been exhibited?
Sincerely, John N. Maclean

C o n n e c t
F l i c k r

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