Sea Blue Lens

Terrible Beauty: SHS 6.2.13


It’s a different kind of Scavenger Hunt Sunday this week. We don’t have any prompts except “Photographer’s Choice” — we’re meant to choose our five favorite photos of the week, of any subject we like.

Late Thursday afternoon, heading home after a shopping trip, I saw smoke rising beyond the horizon and pulled over to snap a photo with my iPhone.

IMG_0794-2Uh oh.

As soon as I got home I checked the television news to find out what was happening. A wildfire had begun about an hour earlier in the Angeles National Forest, about 16 miles northwest of here as the crow flies. (We are not in danger.) It’s being called the Powerhouse fire.

About ten minutes later, I took this photo from behind the garage . . .


. . . and then over the next hour and a half I watched in horrified fascination as smoke spread across the clear blue sky, first casting shadows on the hills and then blotting out the sun.




Colors were changing moment by moment,  morphing from the yellow-green of an old bruise to brilliant red-orange, washing everything in a red glow.



By sunset, the smoke cloud had covered nearly the entire sky.


I woke up during that night and the wind was calm, the smell of fire heavy in the air. By morning, a breeze from the opposite direction had cleared away the sight and scent of smoke, though the fire continues to burn even now.  Every change in the wind brings more or less smoke over and around us.

Tonight (Saturday) the setting sun was tinting a few puffy clouds high in the sky, while a shift in the wind was bringing the smoke back, this time across the northern sky.


So far over 5500 acres (Update Sunday morning – almost 20,000 acres now) have burned, including some structures, and three firefighters injured. I’m praying for the protection and well-being of the firefighters and the people, animals, and property that are threatened. I’m praying for rain, though that isn’t likely. I’m praying at least that the winds be calm.

I’m praying that soon there will be nothing in the sky to photograph but birds, clouds, and beautiful natural sunsets.

Even though I’ve cheated a bit (too many photos), I’m linking with Ashley’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday at Ramblings & Photos.

27 thoughts on “Terrible Beauty: SHS 6.2.13

  1. Great shots. When I looked out over the valley the first night I thought how a sky like that back in Indiana would mean rain. Very different here. We had ash falling in our back yard. Went to Santa Clarita today and had the surreal experience of going about our trivial business while glancing at the sky from time to time at the plume of smoke and the smoldering hilltops, knowing firefighters were battling up there. Our heroes.

    Especially enjoyed your shots behind the barn and up past the chimney at the wrongly-hued sky.

  2. Beautiful photos. Glad your family and home is safe. Prayers always for the firefighters. I saw smoke to the north, yesterday, but I missed the news to find out where it was located. ( I am in Wildomar, north of Temecula)

  3. Beautiful shots.. Who knew that dust storm could be so pretty.

  4. Such gorgeous shots, but so sad they are a result of such disaster! Hope everyone is safe and sound.

  5. Glad to know you are safe!
    The colors created by that smoke are almost surreal. The title you gave this post is perfect. Beauty from a terrible situation.

  6. Wow… those are some beautiful photos. Too bad there needs to be a disaster to get shots like that.

  7. Great shots, Lee. Hope the fire is contained soon. I’m reminded of the High Park fire near our home last year. With more rain and moisture this spring, we’re hoping to skip the wildfires this summer.

  8. I’m glad you cheated to show a few more. I’m guessing that being right there this is horrifying, BUT from here it’s more fascinating. That shot of the orange sky against the roofline is awesome. I am drawn to smoke, fog, mist, steam, etc caught in light….but not at the expense of lives and ruin.
    Hoping rain comes your way soon.

  9. Oh my you captured this fire with some beautiful shots. It’s sad when fires happen and I hope this one will be contained soon.
    My favorite shot was the 2nd to last shot. Stunning. It looks like you live in a very dry and arid climate. I didn’t see any green lawns in the shots with the homes.

  10. Wow, such gorgeous beauty from such a horrible fire! Hope that they get it out soon, and that no one else is injured in the process.

  11. I hope your house is still safe! I have family in So California & Simi Valley… so, the air quality is always an issue with them during fire season.
    It’s amazing the particles in the air can create such beauty & also so much damage… beautiful set of photos!
    And, I want to thank you for always leaving me a comment on my blog. I get such a thrill from faithful commenters!

  12. Wow, scary! Reminds me of my Berkeley days. I’m glad you’re not in any danger, though! Let’s keep it that way!

  13. Indeed, a terrible beauty – one of those conflicting moments when you can admire the wondrous colors yet feel such pain at the cause. Sending thoughts to all who are impacted by this tragedy.

  14. It is, indeed, a terrible beauty. We went through something like this several years ago, and I still remember the “fire sun”. It was fascinating and terrible at the same time. The smoke was horrible, we had to close all windows – I hate to sleep with the windows closed (and I can’t sleep very well then). I hope your house is still safe, and that this fire will be a thing of the past very very soon.

  15. I sure hope they get this under control soon.
    Stay safe.

  16. May I have permission to reblog this post?

  17. Reblogged this on Any Given Sundry and commented:
    I have only reblogged another blogger’s post once or twice in the 5+ years I’ve been blogging, but this one really captures the “Terrible Beauty” of the effects of the Powerhouse Fire on our area. Thanks, Sea Blue Lens!

  18. Oh how horrible. We don’t get those kinds of fires around here…but we get plenty of other types of disasters.

  19. Glad you are safe. Praying for safety for everyone involved.

  20. It’s a particularly nasty fire, even by California standards … everyone in the country is keeping an eye on it.

    • I’m heartbroken for the owners of the many cherry orchards that had to be evacuated just as their picking season began.

      • Oh, no! I hadn’t heard about that. Did they lose the orchards? So sad.


      • I haven’t heard that orchard were lost, but I had been receiving emails from the orchards saying they started picking before Memorial Day, a very good crop. They weren’t able to be open to pickers last weekend. I am going to try to find out if it’s okay to go there this week.

  21. I am slow seeing your posting…it might have passed by now, but the ruins will remain for decades. We once lived in Reno, and Lake Tahoe had some horrible fires……black, scab scars everywhere….it still hadn’t grown in once me moved. Another time we lived on the foothills of SLC, UT…the fire was over the hill from our home…we waited and waited…then the wind shifted and the fire put itself out…I never want to be that close again, NOR OTHERS….we are all grateful your home and land and others around you were protected. And perhaps the cherries were saved….I won’t look at a cherry the same way again. S.

  22. I’m glad to hear that you aren’t threatened, but my heart goes out to people who had to evacuate and don’t yet know whether their homes were spared…

    I have a long list of jobs I would not want to do and, lately, I have a growing list of places where I would not want to live. The unpredictability of tornadoes, wildfires, landslides, and earthquakes are equally terrifying to me. I’ve reconciled myself to hurricane season–a six-month stretch where you travel at your own risk and keep refrigerator and freezer perishables at a minimum level–because there is usually enough of a lead time that everyone can prepare their homes, evacuate, etc. Here, of course, we have the threat of sinkholes–totally unpredictable–so I’m keeping my fingers crossed in that regard!

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