Climate Change – Colorado’s Marshall Fire Aftermath

Anthropogenic Crisis No. 092740 (Melting City) copyright 2022 Douglas Stockdale

This past weekend while in Boulder Colorado for a family wedding, I was confronted with the aftermath of the Marshall Fire that occurred at the end of last December. This was a grass fire that became the most destructive in the history of Colorado in terms of structures lost. An unusually humid spring with above average growth of the grass due to the wet conditions, followed by an unusually warm and dry summer and fall dried out the dangerous tender and then a small local fire occurred (source still unknown) in conjunction with unusually high winds reaching 110mph, all point to the disastrous effects of climate change. By the end of this catistrophic event on January 1st, 2022, an estimated 1,084 structures, including houses, a hotel (the remains, above) and at least one shopping center were gone. Totally gone.

While driving from the Denver airport to our hotel located outside of Boulder, we talked about a what-if about potentially looking at the effects of this fire. I suspected that our hotel in Superior might be close to this area as I had stayed at this hotel before and while this fire was in progress, I had remarked that I knew this area pretty well and was wondering if this hotel had been impacted. I guess the charred and burnt shrubs next the front door of the hotel as a pretty good clue we were very, very close to where this fire event occurred. I suspect that the brick construction of this hotel structure provided a margin of safety, unlike the wooden structures that burned that day. The remains of another hotel, above, indicate what could have happened. Essentially the hotel we were staying at is situated in the middle of this fire’s aftermath.

For my Anthropogenic Crisis project I have been creating futuristic and surreal what-if compositions. Likewise, another what-if for the development of this project that I had been considering was spending time at places where the full impact of climate change has been felt; wild fires, wind damage, flooding, tornadoes, costal hurricanes and similar environmental catastrophes. Spending a couple of days photographing the Marshall Fire aftermath is providing a ton of raw photographic material to work with in that regard.

The photograph above is in a documentary style that like most photo-journalism is realistic, other than choosing the photographic angle and camera settings, has not been altered or modified. I can see how I might expand this project to include these documentary style photographs with my earlier surrealistic visions.





Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC): Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading on: May 14 & 15 – 21 & 22nd, 2022, from 1PM-4PM (Mountain Time). More details and sign-up available now at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.


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