The media has been full of fire images from California. But these photos by Noah Berger and Josh Edelson communicate something unique. Certainly, they illustrate the horrific dimensions of the fires by showing the flames breaching man-made and natural boundaries. But the symbolism goes deeper than that and captures two awful facts that are becoming sickeningly apparent to Californians in this particularly early fire season, and in the weeks since these photos were published.
One is, the scale of these events obviates any sense of their randomness. California has become the latest victim of global heating. Second, there is the sense that California may no longer have the ability to effectively manage these blazes anymore.
These facts make these photos especially potent. The situation has gone way beyond the jumping of one highway or one body of water. California’s firestorms have crossed a much bigger threshold.
Lead Photo: Noah Berger/AP Caption: Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires jump Interstate 80 in Vacaville, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. The highway was closed in both directions shortly afterward. Fire crews across the region scrambled to contain dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes as a statewide heatwave continues.