Night Light of the North Coast: To the Firefighters

The old fire truck

The old fire truck out at the ranch. Sprowel Creek VFD. Kris Hilligoss and I were trying for some Milky Way compositions with Ye Olde Fire Trucke and playing around with lighting. June 14, 2018.

This one is for the firefighters of California. Often risking their lives to save the lives and property of others, they have always been some of the truest of heroes. In these new times of reduced precipitation and increased fuel, their jobs are becoming more and more difficult and dangerous. They are on my mind as we close out the worst fire year in California’s history.

The old fire truck out at the ranch.

A color version.

On the news we see the mega fires and the large-scale efforts to contain them. It’s easy to forget the numerous small-time volunteer fire companies that dot the rural landscape, but in many cases they serve as the first line of defense against forest fires. Their vigilance often stops a fire before it can spread to wider areas.

A darker version.

In honor of the firefighters, this week’s Night Light falls upon an old fire truck still in the service of one of the many rural volunteer fire companies out in our hills. She has certainly seen a sight of times, I thought as she stood in patient silence while I photographed her that night.

To see previous entries of “Night Light of the North Coast,” click on my name above the article. If you’d like to keep abreast of my most current photography or peer into its past, you can follow me on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx . I update my website less frequently, but you can contact me there.



  • Both are great,your great. Keep on posting your photos there really beautiful.

  • Yes, great pictures. Thank you David.

    First and foremost, i have nothing but respect for our firemen here in Humboldt, and of course for those brave men and women from all over who walked into the orchestrated Hell on Earth of the Paradise Lost fire(s). Carlotta’s Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief lives a hop, skip and a jump from me. He’s the first one who shows up the two times i had to hit 911.

    The damage that Meas. Z’s extortion $ has provided in eradicating nature on private property with very few arrests – lots of threats – $10,000 a day and more, to my knowledge, doesn’t happen. Gasbags.

    There has been lots of talk coming from the different fire departments – Yahoo Meas. Z. It is what it is.

    The last video uploaded last evening, straight from the horse’s mouths -the survivors in Paradise- tell a sick story as they were fleeing for their lives, of fifty or so fire trucks and tractors parked on Skyway. Skyway is the one exit out of Paradise when all else was in flames. My parents lived there for a couple of years. I’m familiar with the terrain.

    A stand-down Order (sound Twin Towers familiar)? There was no warning, no planes of water or retardant. No fire trucks. No dozers. No Sheriff or Deputies. No FEMA. No body count. Interestingly enough, the controller’s homes still stand. The folks of Paradise were fried.

    Paradise Lost #37 17:24 Dec. 16

    Heads Up Humboldt.

    • I was there. I escaped that nightmare. The night before we had 57 mph Jarbo Gap winds, & they were still well over 30 mph at 6:30 am November 8. I don’t know with absolute certainty what in actuality really started the fire, but in all our many evacuations over 30+ years, the strong, multidirectional winds that morning precluded and aircraft from getting up to safely fly. Within an hour the skies were black as night. Yes, our ridge was known for the dangerous lack of multiple escape routes. By the grace of God, I sensed this was not a time to pack, but a time to just GO. Living on lower Pentz, and having experienced the traffic hazard in 2008, I made sure we got out within minutes of the first formal code red alert warning. If I had lived farther up the road, the story may have been very different. I was 1.2 miles south of the Feather River Hospital. Bottom line, this was one of only two times in 30 years where aircraft always stationed nearby in Chico were powerless to help save our area.

  • All three are very nice David, but the black and whites are outstanding. Good composition on the B&Ws, with color it skews that composition a little as red is center stage but a little static. I like the last one better with the “original” larger image, the first with the smaller image, because as you reduce it the contrast and detail changes. The first punches out the details and the last has a really nice ambiance- really feels like standing there at night when it’s all quiet. Beautiful work.

  • Love it. *salute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *