Seeing the devastation rot by a mega forest fire over a year after the BC’s fire services finally brought it under control is, to say the least, a pretty humbling experience. Such fires catch the media’s attention as they rage, but we rarely see the aftermath.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” as the saying goes.
When you then visit a place after reading about it in the news, whether it’s after a hurricane, landslide or forest fire, there’s this cognitive gap that stuns you. Tucked away in your memory were these abstract views of the disaster—memories of images, videos, and commentary frozen during the moments the hurricane or forest fire raged. Then, finally, the disaster ends and slips out of the 24/7 news cycle, leaving you with an unfinished story.
A year later, like I experienced when I visited the southern fringe of the 900 square kilometre Spark’s Lake Fire, you see the aftermath of the disaster, and everything inside you instantly changes. Your brain switches into this odd, disconnected, neutral mode. You’re in cognitive free fall, trying desperately to reconcile the image of the after you had built up in your mind with the reality now clearly in your camera’s viewfinder.
It’s a tragic yet softly sweet moment that invariably ended in tears for me.
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i really understand your filling. by myself photographed the burned Sataf forest close to Jerusalem during the whole 2021.the first time i visited this place just two days after the fire. the warm earth. the clicks inside the black trunks. it was such an amazing and scary experience.
Thanks for sharing your experience Victor. I’ll be going back to this area of the fire next summer (2023) to spend even more time capturing the forest’s recovery. I expect it will be a tortuous period for the forest and given that British Columbia is warming much faster than the global average I don’t expect what will grow there will be anything like what was there 100 years ago. Back before global warming started to accelerate.
You’re right. And our forests are not natural but grown by people. So the mountains right now are cleaned from the burned trunks and empty. Its really interesting to see and to document the process of the new tree planting. Good luck to you too.