Distant Wild Fire Smoke

Since I keep yammering on about wild fires and smoke, I thought I should provide better photographic illustrations as to what it can look like. The upper photo was taken from near my house, with the local graveyard in the foreground. The lower photo, taken from a vantage point ten miles away, looks over Payette Lake to the northeast. The plume is the same in both.

It is this particular complex of fires that keeps the girls and me from accessing our favorite local running trails: Loon Lake and Ruby Meadows.

I worry about the wolves that live there. Or used to live there. These fires, started by lightning, have been burning since July 6 and combined have burned over 100,000 acres.

There are other fires, of similar size, burning in other parts of Idaho. And Montana. My friends at Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary near Missoula, MT are living with the same situation, as their blog attests. The West has become a huge, smoldering fire pit.

The photos were taken Friday August 10th. The winds were blowing in such a way that the smoke cleared from the valley I live in, providing these excellent views.

Wild fire plumes have a strange beauty.

At first glance, they look like harmless cumulus clouds. On closer inspection, you notice they form a column that reaches down to the ground. Or that they start disintegrating with the wind, forming long brownish skirts that spread to cover the landscape like a shy girl hiding her knees.

In these atmospheric conditions the plumes rise straight up, tall and proud, white and billowing. Fluffy, like cotton candy. Even from utter chaos and destruction on the ground, there is beauty and softness in the sky. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze.