Scenes From a Controlled Fire Gone, Well, Out of Control

Regular Unfair Park contributor and not-so-long-ago photo intern Danny Fulgencio was passing through the town of Bowie last weekend, on his way back from a shoot, when he spotted some smoke on the horizon.

When he pulled closer, he found a few of the town's volunteer fire fighters tending to a controlled burn at a scrap yard, where an unusually huge load of scrap had piled up over the last few weeks, while things were too cold and wet to burn them off a little at a time.

Danny reports scrap yard owner Bobby Coggin had 1,000 tons of old bikes, computers and junked cars to burn the plastic off before shipping the metal out for re-manufacturing in spots like China, India and Chile.

Not imagining much could go wrong, the fire fighters invited him to stick around and shoot, which he did -- for the next couple hours, as they lit a one set of truck cabs and plastic scrap ablaze, then another, then scrambled back to chase the first fire as it spread unexpectedly past telephone poles up to a road, then back to the second fire as the winds picked up and blew the other way.

"All of a sudden there was this giant plume of flame and smoke on the northern side of the tracks," Danny recalls. "That just suddenly erupted and somebody just screamed, 'Oh shit!'"

It all made for a rough time for the other small-town fire departments that came to control the mess -- and you can watch it all unfold here in our slideshow.

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Patrick Michels
Contact: Patrick Michels