The day after we were let back into town I wanted to go out and shoot. I’m not the kind of photographer who gets excited over chasing a fire, or documenting the danger – I’m the first one out of town when it gets dangerous! But I am interested in other parts of the whole experience – and I felt a need to go out and make sense of it, with my camera.
The following series is what I got that day. The best of these images are in this week’s edition of the Village News, and one of them was on the front page of the TheVillageNews.com for most of the week after the fire.
Modern fire engines were parked next to the Firehouse Broiler’s vintage fire truck, as the restaurant hosted the firemen.
Firemen at the Firehouse Broiler.
The Taylor family lost their home near Live Oak Park, but they called their meal with friends at the Firehouse Broiler a celebration. They were grateful to be alive and healthy and together.
The menu board at the Firehouse Broiler read “Thank you to all the Firefighters and Law Enforcement.”
Ron Johnson from Fallbrook Union High School helps to unload the 300 cots provided by the Red Cross, at the evacuation center at the school.
Cleaning up at El Parque Restaurant in Live Oak Park. The owners hope to reopen on Saturday.
The line for Disaster Clean-up Kits and Comfort Kits provided by the Red Cross at the Community Center on Heald.<
The Red Cross provided hot meals to those in need.
A hot meal, water, and desert.
At the Community Center, “Stromsoe Insurance Agency wants to help you begin the recovery process.” There were four insurance companies with representatives available to talk to home owners.
Phillis Mischke and Barbara Sacic, who both live in the Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park check to see if their homes are on the list of destroyed homes. Neither one’s home was listed, but Barbara’s home made another list a few days ago, so she was hoping the fact it wasn’t listed now was a good sign.
“House Doctor, Home Repairs at Disaster Prices”
Tom Baba of Fallbrook shows Lance Kramer of Laguna Beach that his home is not on the list of destroyed homes.
Tom Baba is happy to see that there is no red dot marking his property, which means his home in the middle of the burn area is most likely still standing.
“All American Red Cross Disaster Assistance is Free”
Red Cross Volunteers distributing Disaster Clean-up Kits at the Community Center.
The Red Cross handed out bottled water and flavored water to residents at the Community Center.
Red Cross volunteers outside the Fallbrook Union High School evacuation center.
An interesting note… I’d forgotten when I went out to shoot last Friday, that I’d had a similar reaction after the fire in 2004. That time I got to go back in the morning, and so as soon as I’d cleaned out my freezer and refrigerator – the power was out for a week due to the fire – so yuck! But after I’d cleaned up that mess, and unpacked my car, I felt compelled to go out and shoot. The landscape was blackened and there was devastation everywhere. I shot 3 rolls of film and I found beauty in the damage. I created beautiful shots of charred branches and burned fences. I spent a lot of time crying that day, but ultimately it made me feel better to create beauty from the ruins.
So it strikes me as interesting that I felt the same compulsion this time – to go out and shoot right away – but this time I was compelled to make happy, shiny, comforting images, and last time I shot the devastation. I think both approaches are valid, but definitely very very different.