Fire draws looky-loos, volunteers

Fire draws looky-loos, volunteers

18 November 2008

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California, USA — Brent Bollar stood atop a freshly plowed fire break in the rugged Placerita Canyon Monday watching dozers punch through the forest and snapping pictures of planes dropping fire retardant on wayward flames from the Sayre Fire.

Chaparral fueled the fire. Excitement fueled Bollar.

“When there is a fire, my adrenaline starts pumping. I haven’t slept in 32 hours. I drank a power drink and kept going,” he said.

Bollar is running on pure adrenaline. The hormone kicked in the minute the Sayre Fire sparked up, he said.

Bollar, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, is a Los Angeles County Fire Department volunteer photographer.

He gives up his day job working for a security company to drive dangerously close to the flames and snap pictures.

“The photos are used for our Web site and brochures,” Bollar said. Not all of Bollar’s pictures are used there.

His 2007 wildfire pictures made it on to the pages of Fire Engineering Magazine, Bollar said. The pictures are also used for firefighter training. The snapshots give firefighters a clear idea of what a wildland fire looks like up close, he said.

The flames advanced toward the fire break where Bollar stood.

“I’ll keep taking pictures until they decide to light a back fire here,” he said. For Bollar, trading his full-time job for a volunteer position on the fire line is a no-brainer. “It gives me an opportunity to serve my community,” he said.

Dean Thomas and Saundra McKenna watched the fire burn from a safe distance after they pulled off the side of Placerita Canyon Road.

“It’s phenomenal to watch what the firefighters are doing to keep us safe,” Thomas said.

He spent the last three days watching and recording the fire on his video camera.

“I got a shot of a helicopter pushing through the smoke, dropping water. It was amazing,” he said.

The fire burning within sight of her home wasn’t reason for concern, McKenna said.

“These guys do a great job stopping the fire,” she said.

Danger didn’t prompt Wayne Schulz to flee his home Monday.

“I suffer from bronchitis and this air is no good,” he said. Schulz packed up his few belongings in his red Ford Mustang with plans to stay at a friend’s home until the smoke clears. “I woke up this morning with a headache and knew I needed to leave.”


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