During a recent visit to Sonoma Raceway for the Trans-Am Series Presented by Pirelli, I felt the photojournalism bug again. The week prior to my arrival had seen a historic lighting storm sweep through the Bay Area of California, creating a massive complex of wildfires that were raging out of control. The entire Bay Area was inundated with thick smoke layers all around, obscuring popular views of the city of San Francisco and countless landmarks. Flights arriving at SFO (pictured in the second row) arrived with a near-apocalyptic backdrop of towering smoke and ash.

  While at the track, I had the opportunity to wrap up work early two consecutive days, resulting in me driving north to see what I could see of two of the fires in the area. The first, two small fires raging in the hills northeast of Napa, just outside Hidden Valley, glowed in the early-night sky. The second, northwest of Santa Rosa, featured some of the most harrowing photography I have ever had the opportunity to capture. For over an hour, I watched as plane after plane from CAL Fire and others drop fire retardant, called Phos-Chek, on the ridge adjacent to Mt. Jackson, just beyond a vineyard I had parked in front of. From here, I witnessed several passes by the DC-10 Air Tankers, as well as S2T's, AA230's, an MD-87, and a BAE-146. 

Without a doubt, this was the most dramatic event I have had the privilege of photographic in my photojournalism career. It captures the drama, the bravery, and the beautiful terror that wildfires create, and it is a memory I will not soon forget.

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