Photography

Photos: Dangerous conditions complicate wildfire fight in western U.S.

Wildfires in California are spreading rapidly amid extreme fire behavior — an ominous sign for the autumn months when the state typically sees its most destructive fires.

Stuart Palley/FTWP

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

A helicopter flies past the Caldor Fire near Kirkwood.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service firefighters.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

A Cal Fire engine crew member monitors water pressure supporting a hose lay up a hill at the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

Cal Fire inmate firefighters hike to help extend a hose line.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Cal Fire firefighters on State Highway 88.

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 2 | Kirkwood, Calif.

Firefighters stage hose lines and other equipment for overnight firefighting.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Flames from the Caldor Fire off California Highway 88. The Milky Way is visible to the upper right in this photo made with a long exposure.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Firefighters hiking along a fireline at the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A tree torches, sending off embers near Kirkwood at the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A South Lake Tahoe firefighter steps back from brush that ignited.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Firefighters mop up smoldering ground fuels.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

A sign burned by the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | Meyers, Calif.

El Dorado Hotshots load into their crew buggy.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | Meyers, Calif.

Boats docked at Caples Lake Tuesday in the path of the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Sept. 1 | Meyers, Calif.

Firefighters walk a bulldozer line after prepping fireline in front of the Caldor Fire.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 31 | Meyers, Calif.

A crew monitors the Caldor Fire with a hose line near endangered homes.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 31 | Meyers, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns into the Christmas Valley and the town of Meyers near South Lake Tahoe.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 31 | Meyers, Calif.

The Caldor Fire threatens a structure in Meyers.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 31 | Meyers, Calif.

Engine crews use a backpack hose as a fire threatens a home.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 30 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Mel Smothers plays the violin while stuck in traffic with evacuees as residents attempt to flee the Caldor Fire.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 30 | Meyers, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns west of Highway 89.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 30 | Meyers, Calif.

A fire engine monitors flames near structures.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 30 | Meyers, Calif.

Firefighters discuss tactics while protecting a structure south of Meyers near Highway 89.

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 30 | Christmas Valley, Calif.

El Dorado County Fire Department personnel work on structure protection near flames from the Caldor Fire.

Brittany Hosea Small/Reuters

Brittany Hosea Small/Reuters

Aug. 30 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Seen from South Lake Tahoe, flames from the Caldor Fire leap along a hillside above Christmas Valley.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 30 | South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Flames consume a home as the Caldor Fire burns.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 30 | Eldorado National Forest, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 29 | Twin Bridges, Calif.

Firefighters work to protect a home as flames from the Caldor Fire spread.

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 29 | Phillips, Calif.

A cabin burns in the Caldor Fire.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 29 | Phillips, Calif.

Flames are seen in the widows of a cabin burning in the Caldor Fire.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 29 | Phillips, Calif.

A firetruck speeds by a burning cabin at the Caldor Fire.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 29 | Phillips, Calif.

Flames leap above trees in the Caldor Fire.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 29 | Twin Bridges, Calif.

Firefighters discuss their plans while monitoring flames during the Caldor Fire.

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 29 | Twin Bridges, Calif

Embers fly off a burning tree during the Caldor Fire.

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 26 | Kyburz, Calif.

Fire crews carry a hose down a hill as the Caldor Fire burns on both sides of Highway 50.

Sara Nevis/AP

Sara Nevis/AP

Aug. 26 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

A cabin that firefighters had covered in structure wrap stands unburned next to a structure that wasn't covered after a firestorm swept through upper Slick Rock Canyon during the French Fire.

David Mcnew/Getty Images

David Mcnew/Getty Images

Aug. 26 | Lake Isabella, Calif.

The French Fire burns in the Sequoia National Forest.

David Swanson/Reuters

David Swanson/Reuters

Aug. 26 | Eldorado National Forest, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns along both sides of Highway 50 as firefighters work to stop its eastward spread.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

Firefighters watch as a helicopter drops water at the South Fire.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

Firefighters watch as the South Fire burns.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Aug. 25 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

Heavy fire and smoke hits Rancheria Road and State Route 155 as the French Fire continues to spread.

David Mcnew/Getty Images

David Mcnew/Getty Images

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

Homeowner Jose Lamas, right, and his daughter Astrid Covarrubias survey the charred debris left in his burned-out home from the South Fire.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

Animals remain in their pen as fire continues to burn from the South Fire.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

A firefighter tries to extinguish the flames at a burning house as the South Fire burns.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Aug. 25 | Lytle Creek, Calif.

A small fire burns in the shell of a vehicle near a burning house at the South Fire.

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Aug. 25 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

A freshly burned landscape is seen as the French Fire continues to spread.

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Aug. 24 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

The Fulton Hotshots firefighting crew make their way to the French Fire as the plume rises in the early morning.

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Aug. 24 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

A firefighting helicopter releases fire retardant on the French Fire near State Route 155.

David Mcnew/Getty Images

David Mcnew/Getty Images

Aug. 24 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

An Arroyo Grande Hotshot firefighter uses a hose to cool flames sending up embers that could cause the French Fire to jump State Route 155.

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Aug. 24 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

Arroyo Grande Hotshots firefighters are seen behind the flames of a backfire they are setting to battle the French Fire.

David McNew

David McNew

Aug. 24 | Wofford Heights, Calif.

The French Fire comes close to destroying homes.

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Aug. 23 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighter Takeshi Yamaguchi walks with a fire engine looking for hot spots.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 23 | Grizzly Flat, Calif.

Smoke billows from fire along a hillside.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 23 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

Roosevelt Hotshot crew members use a hose on backfires.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 23 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

Firefighters work to slow the spread of the fire after a flare-up.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 23 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

A Roosevelt Hotshot crew member monitors backfires.

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

FRED GREAVES/REUTERS

Aug. 22 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Firefighters work during backfire operations to slow the spread of the Caldor Fire.

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Aug. 22 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Flames from the Caldor Fire are seen.

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Aug. 22 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Firefighters watch a flare-up during the Caldor Fire.

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Fred Greaves/Reuters

Aug. 21 | Kern County, Calif.

An aircraft drops water during the French Fire.

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Aug. 21 | Greenville, Calif.

The American flag is illuminated behind the remains of a building destroyed by the Dixie Fire.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 21 | Genesee, Calif.

Flames from the Dixie Fire spread.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 21 | Kyburz, Calif.

A firefighter battles flames during the Caldor Fire.

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Aug. 21 | Genesee, Calif.

Firefighters climb an embankment near active fire during the Dixie Fire.

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Aug. 21 | Kern County, Calif.

The moon is obscured by smoke during the French Fire.

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Aug. 19 | Clearlake, Calif.

In an aerial view, burned mobile homes are visible at the Creekside Mobile Home Park a day after being destroyed by the Cache Fire.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Aug. 19 | Clearlake, Calif.

An aerial view shows one of dozens of properties destroyed at the Creekside Mobile Home Park after the Cache Fire ripped through the area.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 19 | Clearlake, Calif.

Religious statues stand amid a burned property at the Creekside Mobile Home Park after the Cache Fire tore through the area.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 19 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

A California Conservation Corps fire crew packs up their engine after cutting a hand line at the Caldor Fire.

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 19 | Jenkinson Lake, Calif.

A California Conservation Corps fire crew comes off a fire line at the Caldor Fire.

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 19 | Riverton, Calif.

Central Calaveras firefighter Ryan Carpenter extinguishes flames from the Caldor Fire on Hazel Valley Road.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Burned trees.

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

A burned truck alongside residences destroyed by the Caldor Fire.

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley for The Washington Post

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

The interior of a burned out pickup.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

The entrance sign to the town of Grizzly Flats was destroyed by the Caldor Fire.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Pacific Gas and Electric employees clear downed power lines on Sciaroni Road.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 18 | Grizzly Flats, Calif.

Flames from the Caldor Fire scorch the ground near a structure.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 18 | Susanville, Calif.

A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop during the Dixie Fire.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Aug. 17 | Placerville, Calif.

The Caldor Fire seen at dusk.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 17 | Doyle, Calif.

Destiney Barnard holds Raymond William Goetchius while stranded at a gas station near the Dixie Fire. Barnard was helping Goetchius and his family evacuate from Susanville when her car broke down.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 17 | White Hall, Calif.

Jennifer Whitmore sprays her home with water as the Caldor fire burns.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 17 | Milford, Calif.

Cal Fire firefighters set a hose line as they try to contain the fire from spotting across Highway 395 during the Dixie Fire.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 17 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns in the El Dorado National Forest.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 17 | Pollock Pines, Calif.

The Caldor Fire burns in the El Dorado National Forest.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 17 | Janesville, Calif

Firefighters spray water on trees as they burn along Highway 395 during the Dixie Fire.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 17 | Milford, Calif.

Flames surge into the air as firefighters try to contain the fire from spotting across Highway 395 during the Dixie Fire.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Aug. 16 | Lassen County, Calif.

Firefighters drive along Highway 395 south of Janesville as the Dixie Fire jumps the roadway.

Noah Berger/AP

Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 16 | Janesville, Calif.

A home burns on Jeters Road as the Dixie fire jumps Highway 395.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 16 | Janesville, Calif.

Firefighters from a Chino Valley task force battle the Dixie fire as it jumps Highway 395.

Ethan Swope/AP

Ethan Swope/AP

Aug. 13 | Plumas County, Calif.

CalFire firefighters and California Correctional Center (CCC) inmates fight a spot fire on the side of Highway CA-36 between Chester and Westwood.

Eugene Garcia/AP

Eugene Garcia/AP

Aug. 5. | Canyondam, Calif.

Trees torched by the Dixie Fire are seen at dusk.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 5 | Greenville, Calif

A destroyed vintage car.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Aug. 4 | Greenville, Calif.

A burning structure.

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

Stuart W. Palley For The Washington Post

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Credits

Photo editing by Troy Witcher, Stephen Cook and Kenneth Dickerman