A chance opportunity
One Sunday, we were coming back from a trip to the coast at Torre Del Mar in Andalucia. I always take my camera along with me because you never know what you might see but it was too windy on the coast but the sea was quite calm, so I didn't take many pictures at all and decided to go home. The drive back is pretty much all uphill and with winding roads but very picturesque, so, it's always a pleasure to do. About halfway into the journey to where we were staying, we saw a little bit of smoke and thought that maybe, someone was burning parts of their land but it soon became clear that this was not the case. It was the beginnings of a wildfire.
Passing the local police, who were busy on the radio, we drove a short distance until we found a safe place to park. Out came the tripod and a zoom lens, which I positioned to try and get the best view of the fire. This was under the shade of a tree, which was a bonus. The fire began to spread on two sides and we could see a man outside a small farmhouse, trying to beat the flames out with a blanket, as it got closer to his property. on the other side was a steep hill but that didn't stop the fire, heading towards a large house, which had people watching from the balcony.
A fire engine passed by but we could see that it would take a long time for it to get anywhere near the fire but it was followed shortly after by a helicopter carrying a water bucket, to drop water on the affected areas. It filled up from a small water deposit, which was at the bottom of the hill.
When full, the helicopter pulled up and flew towards the burning land. A siren sounded and the water was dropped in a torrent and onto the ground below. As soon as this happened, the helicopter returned to the water deposit to refill. Time and time again it dropped it's load, refilled and dropped the water again. It was very effective and the fire began to get under control.
Looking back at the photos I took, I can see that I changed from one view to another quite often but at the time, there was so much going on, I thought that if I kept the lens on one plece of action, I might miss something else. It's hard to know if I would do things differently if the situation arose again but I remember thinking at the time "I wish I had a longer lens" as the 300mm wasn't quite enough for some of the shots but you can only work with what you've got at the time.
So, an interesting end the the day and a reminder that you never know when you might need your camera
Photo credits: S Walker.