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.

Wildfire begins to spread through the Spanish countryside between Sayalonga and Arenas.

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.

Wildfire flames spread across the Spanish countryside between Sayalonga and Arenas.

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.

Junta de Andalucia helicopter Bell 212, refills water bucket, slung below it

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.

Fire control helicopter Bell 212 drops water onto the burning land below. Between Sayalonga and Arenas, Andalucia, Spain.

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.

Your article must be written in English

July 03, 2018


Hi Aurelie, thanks for reading the blog.

June 29, 2018


It was a great opportunity to take rare pictures. Good to read that anybody were harmed.

June 29, 2018


Thanks Bettina, glad you liked it.

June 29, 2018


Thanks, interesting article.

June 26, 2018


Thanks very much William. As far as we know, no buildings or people were harmed.

June 26, 2018


Excellent photojournalism opportunity! In the right place at the right time... and even had the camera handy! I think the 300mm was great. Zooming in closer might have lost the impact of the grand scale of the situation. Hope all the residents and homes were saved.

June 26, 2018


Thanks Patrick. I had plenty to choose from, having taken about 300 photos in all!

June 26, 2018


Interesting set of pics, you captured a quite dramatic sequence of events very well. Well done :)

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