Why Joel Wolfson burned his own property and how he photographed it

I was committed to burning my property. I know this sounds a bit crazy but we’re talking about a prescribed burn. My wife researched programs in our area for homeowners to reduce fire hazard. In our area the firefighters are cross-trained for both wildland and structure fires so they are perfectly qualified to do prescribed burns on a residential property.

After getting an assessment we got rid of all the pine needles dropped by the numerous ponderosa in proximity to the house and studio. The fire crew dug a containment “line” around the perimeter of our property. Then they trimmed low hanging branches and small trees that could be potential “ladder fuels” Then we waited for the right weather and time to burn.

I live in the WUI (pronounced woo-ee). That stands for wildland-urban interface. The upside is I’m in the woods and mountains with beautiful views; surroundings that motivate me creatively, it’s quiet, and I see lots of wildlife. The downside is I’m in the woods, which means potential danger from wildland fires. Exacerbating that danger is that I also happen to be in northern Arizona, where wildland fires are not uncommon.


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