In the fading sunlight of a breezy Saturday in late October, the desperation of a lost hunter sparked the largest wildfire in California history.October 2003: From unremarkable beginnings in the steep, roadless wilderness of the Cleveland National Forest, the Cedar fire roared across the county with amazing speed, blazing a 28-mile-long trail of destruction in its first 14 hours. Within nine hours, the Paradise fire was kindled near Valley Center. Together, they devoured a meandering wasteland larger than the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles.
The toll from a week of burning was 16 lost lives, 2,400 lost homes and 400,000 charcoal-like acres.
"When I hear the name, Santa Ana, I think of the 2003 fire season and the backbreaking efforts of an army of firefighters. This is dedicated to the CDF and all of the thousands who joined that Herculean effort." Allan Albaitis
Wood Photo Boards:
- Made from high quality 1/4" thick birch plywood with beveled and stained edges, featuring two wood support bars for hanging.
- Each sign features a natural finish to showcase the beautiful wood grain beneath the image.
- Heavy metal 21 gauge (non-rust) signs are powder coated and printed for that classic look!
- Signs mount easily via pre-drilled and finished with decorative eyelets.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Albaitis cranked out a monthly a cartoon strip called “Frank & Ziggy” for a 4-state motorcycle magazine, Freedom Rider. Once on the job, there were always situations that demanded an Albaitis cartoon. There is no shortage of material for “gotcha” cartoons in any firehouse. Over the years the “toons” evolved into serious art and in 1995, his first national release, “Return To Glory” was unveiled.
In 1997, Firefighter Albaitis published “Guardians” which features the spirits of long gone old timers in a thundercloud assisting their counterparts below to douse a house fire. The edition of 2500 prints sold out through his website, fireart.com, in 2002.
His “American Grace”, a tribute to the responders of September 11th, 2001 seems to center on the image of an American Flag when, actually what appears to be a flag is the twisted, glowing wreckage of the smoldering towers, a pike pole of a firefighter in the foreground and the lighted windows of a sky-scraper in the distance aligning with the star field area of the illusion; there is no flag in the piece. “If there is an underlying theme or philosophy to my work it is simply, look again. As with all things in life, there’s more than what meets the eye,” he says. “Look deeper and more shall be revealed.”
“The day I hung up my gear for the last time was one of mixed emotions to be sure”, Albaitis says of that day, July 4, 2007. “But through my art, I will always stay in touch with those courageous men and women. Fire and Rescue has defined more than half of my life. Retirement will be a new chapter, but it’s the same great book.”
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