Marin Fires: Smoke on the Water

Smoke On The Water

LAST OCTOBER’S ORANGE-TINGED skies set an apocalyptic tone in the Bay Area. Suddenly, residents became well versed in face masks — anything less than an N95 particulate respirator would be pointless — and all local hardware stores struggled to keep them in stock. “Air quality conditions during the fires varied considerably by exact location, so it’s difficult to say which day was the worst,” a Bay Area Air Quality Management District meteorologist notes. “At the Air District’s stations, air quality was worst on October 9, 10, 12 and 13. But smoke affected air quality in the North Bay over the entire period from October 9 to 18.” It was during that period, in the late evening of October 13, that photographer Victor Volta captured this shot of the city skyline, from the deck of the San Francisco–Alameda ferry. Uncertainty loomed that week while the Tubbs Fire raged and engulfed whole swaths of Santa Rosa. Until this past July, the wildfire was deemed the most destructive in California history (Wikipedia still describes it as such), but that grisly superlative now belongs to the Mendocino Complex Fire, which was finally contained on September 1.