After covering wildfire for 20 years, the death of five professional firefighters reminds their colleagues and journalists alike the danger involved in an unpredictable disaster such as this. Anyone could have been with them that day. I tend to get close. Experience, professional training and FULL fire gear including a emergency fire shelter help me tell the story through images. There are many ways to photograph fire; very long lenses of flames and aircraft is one way. I tend to use a 20mm lense. I feel I always stay out of the way of firefighting crews, but I also try to show them as the heroes they are. I can do this best by showing them in the real situations they work in. I often think the general public does not understand. We all love to do our jobs out there. They died doing what they loved to do.
Even as investigators continue to probe the cause of the Esperanza fire, the blaze claimed its fifth life Tuesday night. Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, died about 5 p.m. in Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he had clung to life since sustaining critical burns over most of his body on Thursday, the day the fire started near Cabazon.
The fire itself was was fully contained Monday evening after a five-day fight covering an estimated 40,200 acres.
Also killed as a result of burns sustained that first day were Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto; Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of Idyllwild.
Investigators worked both at the fire's origin on Esperanza Avenue and where the crew of U.S. Forest Service firefighters was overrun by flames Thursday on Gorgonio View Road in lower Twin Pines.
Authorities stood by their damage estimates Monday - 34 homes and 20 other structures destroyed. The cost of fighting the fire was put at nearly $10 million.
The San Bernardino Sun: 10-31-06
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Esperanza Fire Images
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Spending a day at the Edwards Air Force Base Open House and Airshow. I decided, in true Garry Winogrand fashion, to use a wide angle and photograph people watching the sky. Many people like 'people watching' and one co-worker said they look like they are waiting for God.
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