Witch Creek Fire (2007)

Ramona Fire (2007)
Originally uploaded by jonnyups.
(photo heavy blog, click any of the photos to see a bigger view)

It was Sunday night, almost 4 years to the day since San Diego's last huge fire. I knew exactly where to find a good view, as I had been there before. I used my car as a tripod, and snapped a quick shot of what I saw. The Witch Creek Fire, still far away, posed no threat to me.

The next morning, I woke up to banging on my door and people rushing around. The fire was moving in close to me...within a mile. And all the news stations were running my photo:

Famous Photographer

The wind was picking up, and the smoke was moving in. What little bit of sun made it through the smoke made for some interesting sunrise colors.

...And High Winds in a Fiery Sky

We quickly evacuated, and headed our own ways. I knew of some high spots in Escondido that overlooked places where the fire would be. I came to a favorite spot of mine, with some dead trees, overlooking the freeway. They freeway was shut down and the lack of sound was eerie. You could hear the wind gusting, and whipping up sand and ash.

...the Freeways Are Closed

Unsatisfied with the lack of heat, I drove down the hill to where I could see the front line of the fire. At this point, the fire had started branching off and attacking neighboring Rancho Bernardo. It split and went south and north at the same time.

Fire Closes In 3

Their Homes Are In Danger

Flames moved quickly, and crossed the freeway towards my house. Some homes weren't as lucky as the firemen could only do so much against the strong winds.

It Jumps The Freeway


The winds picked up, but it seemed like the fire had gone beyond my house by crawling along Lake Hodges and down towards the ocean.

Strong Winds 1

We came back home that night, and even contemplated sleeping in our own beds, but rational logic got the best of us and told us that we should probably give it another day to cool off. We could look from our porch and see the flames moving away at a very safe distance. All fear was gone.

The next morning, we get word that the winds kicked up again, and this time, in our direction. There was no stopping the fire. The winds were too strong for helicopters and planes to fly in, so we were out of luck. This was taken from the street across from my neighborhood. Just to the left of the frame is where I live.

I Could Hardly Watch

And then the Heavens opened up for us. The helicopters showed up. 4 of them.

Army National Guard

When all was said and done, the fire had stopped at our neighborhood. The firefighters had made their stand on our street and made sure the flames didn't go any farther. Sadly for many homes just west of us, the fire was too much. These are fire truck tracks that back up directly to my bedroom window:

Fire Engine Wuz Here!

Our new view looks like this:

Our New View 2

Thank you to everybody who prayed, and is praying for the situation here. I can't explain it to you, but it's very intense. Click the photo below for a slideshow of all of the photos I took during this time.

And Smoke And Ash Fill The Sky


katers said...

i'm glad you let me know you updated with some shots. but i'm also glad and thankful that you're alright. it's strange being in the rain and beautiful picture-esk scenery here and thinking about how it's exactly opposite for you there.

steph said...

hey there

your shots are amazing. I can't imagine what it's like, but your photos get me closer to the real picture.

hope you're doing alright.
i continue to pray.

gravyty said...

Such a powerful blog Jonny. Thanks for helping us understand a tiny tiny bit of what you all are going through out there. I'm continuing to pray for you all.

amy said...

Dude, that was your photo?! I've seen it around. How did you get it out to the news sources, and did they pay you?

(sorry to be all business about this -- we photographically-inclined people gotta stick together)


My parents are okay -- everyone got evacuated, but no one that I know lost a house.

Hey: check out my blog:


Miss you, Jon!

rose said...

oh man, my heart is in California right now.

Anita said...

Wow, all of these pictures look amazing, you have quickly become a really amazing photographer. keep up the great work!

LynzMiller said...

Thats so awesome Jonny!! I love looking at your awesome photos. Congrats on the exposure.
~LYNZ~ :)
Now come take some pictures of my son. :):)

Lori said...

Hang in there Jonny. The prayers haven't stopped. Your photos are both heart breaking and powerful. Thanks for sharing them with us.