Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
Today was the kind of recording opportunity I wish I hadn’t had. Late last night several bushfires started in the area. For anyone who does not know Australia very well, bushfires are probably the biggest threat to life and property over the summer months in Australia. They can be very serious and very dangerous. In this case they were also close enough that it only took me 10 minutes to walk to where they were being dealt with by the fire and rescue services.
I watched for nearly two hours as, initially two and then later three, helicopters water bombed the flames constantly. Even with the combined effort of the helicopters the fire front advanced over about half a kilometre in that time. The area was such that fire trucks couldn’t access it and so were waiting on a nearby road to intercept it. During this time I recorded a lot of material as the helicopters made numerous passes dumping water. The helicopters would then fly over to the river and hover and reload via a hose that dangled below the vehicle. They were able to reload and return to the fire front in under five minutes which was quite impressive.
As much as I would have loved to record the flames more closely I have far too good an understanding of how bloody dangerous a fire front is, especially when it’s a hot dry day and in this case we also had a very strong wind. A single wind change in these conditions can send the fire off in a totally new direction in seconds. I waited on the road with the fire crews for the front to get closer and managed to sample a bit of the sound of the flames before they asked non fire personnel to move back.. At this stage myself and the news crews on the scene withdrew.
The amount of damage caused in one morning as the fire moved through the national park areas was quite depressing, what was more depressing was that apparently it had been deliberately lit by some school kids. I wonder if I can get a recording of them being strung up by their toes!
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences