Beauty In Tragedy: Photos of The California Wildfires

A malfunctioning sign in Santa Rosa spells out an eerie message one day after the Tubbs Fire devastated the Wine Country. photo: Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

You can’t get away from the photographs of the wildfires that have been decimating areas of Northern California. They’re everywhere; images of burning hills, billowing smoke, destroyed homes, frightened animals and exhausted firefighters. Although they are non-discriminatingly narrating California’s most tragic natural disaster to date, there’s a certain beauty to be found within them.

Beauty In Tragedy: Photos of The California Wildfires

Burning hills above the Silverado Trail. Photo: Peter DaSilva
Scorching flames engulf the wood framing of a structure. Photo: Peter DaSilva

Those who lost their loved ones, their homes, and their businesses may not see anything to appreciate in the myriad photos of rubble and ash, of dancing flames and charred remains. Understandable, as it’s most likely too soon for them.

People watch the sunset through smoke in the air from a fire on Mount Veeter in Napa, Calif. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage
A palm tree is engulfed in smoke at the the Journey’s End Mobile park in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie

Nevertheless several of the images captured by the numerous hardworking photojournalists exude a certain beauty. A poignancy rather than horror. These images of the fires and their aftermath convey the impending and the past. They telegraph loss and discovery and tell stories beyond what is visible.

Roses add a spot of color to singed grape vines at the destroyed Helena View Johnston Vineyards near Calistoga. Photo: Brian van der Brug / LA Times
Sam Brinkerhoff's wife Monica takes a photo of her wedding ring that was found in the burned remains of her home in Santa Rosa
Sam Brinkerhoff’s wife Monica takes a photo of her wedding ring that was found in the burned remains of her home in Santa Rosa, Calif.
santa rosa fire aftermath photos
Arilyn Edwards, 6, stands beside her bike in front of the rubble of her Santa Rosa home. Photo: Guy Wathen
Karen Balestieri and Heidi Facciano
Karen Balestieri and Heidi Facciano marvel at a pond of live koi fish which survived the Tubbs fire. Photo: Alex Washburn
Robert M. Drake (@rmdrk)

“Tragedies will always be found in the things we love. And if we are not willing to see the beauty in losing something that means the world to us, then imagine how terrible it will be to live for them. We must always welcome the end of all things. For sometimes, knowing nothing lasts forever, is the only way we can learn to fall in love with all the moments and all the people that are meant to take our breath away.”rm drake

gabrille lurie photo santa rosa fire
The charred remains of lounge chairs at the pool at Journey’s End Mobile Park in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie
The Signorello Estate Winery
The Signorello Estate Winery is seen destroyed by fire in Napa. Photo: Josh Edelson /AFP
fire aftermath photos
Brian Gilman displays 200-year old intact antique tea cups he found while digging through the rubble of his mother’s home in Santa Rosa. Photo: Guy Wathen
Firefighters work to contain the Tubbs fire at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie

“For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so, because it serenely disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

An abandoned pair of boots lay outside a destroyed home off Soda Canyon Road in Napa. Photo: Leah Millis
A bubbling underground river of wine flows away from a burned Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. Photo: Josh Edelson
santa rosa fire damage
A car is seen burned and charred after the Tubbs fire tore through dozens of homes in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie
Mason Niel, 10, pets his dog Vinnie outside his family’s temporary home in Forestville. Photo: Noah Berger
winery damage santa rosa fire
Hundreds of damaged and burned wine bottles at White Rock Vineyards in Napa. Photo: Amy Osborne
Evacuee Martha Lynn rests with her dogs Broonzy (not pictured) and Golly (right) at a Red Cross shelter after evacuating her home following the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie
Spent fire extinguishers lay on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie
An overhead view of Santa Rosa’s Journey’s End Mobile Park ravaged by the fires. Photo: Josh Haynes/NYT
Peter Gennet and Dr. Larry Posner with Peter’s dogs, Quinn and Rufus, at Crosswalk Church after they were both evacuated from their homes. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez

photo journalism

The above image (photographer unknown) of a masked statue in Sonoma’s Historic Square expresses the hope,  gratitude and pride of the residents.

Ned and Vivien MacDonald post a sign thanking firefighters and police officers on Bennett Valley Rd. near Santa Rosa, photo: Noah Berger

Our condolences to all those affected by the Northern California Wildfires and our endless gratitude to the brave firefighters and volunteers who continue to risk their own lives to save others.

An American flag flies over the remains of a home in Coffey, Santa Rosa. Photo: Noah Berger

San Francisco Chronicle Staff Photographers

Ways To Help

Should you want to help those victimized by the 2017 Northern California Wildfires, here is a list of Sonoma and Napa organizations and places accepting donations. put together by @sarah_stierch. In addition,  If It’s Hip, It’s Here on Twitter has been constantly tweeting ways to help and support, as well as other pertinent info.