A former South West regional press photographer has been getting hot under the collar covering the Californian wildfires.
James Breeden worked for the Plymouth-based Western Morning News and The Herald for three years but is now based in LA with the BWP Media agency.
He was called back from covering the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case to photograph the fires which have raged through the Californian countryside and came within ten miles of his home.
It is believed the fires have destroyed around 144,000 acres of southern California and it could be mid-September before they are completely contained.
He told the WMN: “Photographing fires is a difficult thing – they move so quickly, access is always tricky and it’s always at your own risk.
“Police will allow the press behind the barriers they’ve set up, but setting off alone down winding narrow roads is worrying.
“One firefighter told me that fires can sometimes move quicker than you can run or drive, and that thought has always been in the back of my mind since then.
“I was photographing the fires moving through a valley and at one point there were 30-foot flames on both sides. At the closest, I was just 20 feet away before I started to worry about my lens hood melting and backed off.
“I’m not too worried about my home, as there’s too much concrete between here and there – but it’s incredible to think that it’s so close.”
The WMN initially struggled to get hold of James via phone for its feature because of the time difference and the fact was out on assignment.
Assistant news editor David Wilcock eventually pinned him down to a quick ‘live chat’ on Facebook, enabling the Northcliffe morning title to give its feature the all-important local link.
He told HTFP: “It worked really well, I got some great stuff. It worked better than email because we could interact and it took less time than an exchange which relies on people picking up messages.
“And obviously, it saved the company the cost of an international telephone call!”
Spanky (09/09/2009 11:06:41)
Well done WMN!