Point of view: Beauty, even in ashes

The four seasons in southern California are jokingly called fire, flood, earthquake, and mudslide. Last October one of those "seasons" - fire, fanned by Santa Ana winds - produced major firestorms in three locations. A total area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island was scorched, causing fatalities and destroying 3,600 homes.

I took this image in the mountains high above San Bernardino, from Rim of the World Drive near the resort area of Big Bear (location of Raymond Chandler's 1943 mystery "The Lady in the Lake"). The photo shows the beautiful but eerie light caused by heavy smoke haze obscuring the sun, which painted dramatic layers on the charred hills where the fire had passed the day before.

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