By Nelson Groom
Spewing thick plumes of smoke over a hellish wasteland, these striking images look exactly like scenes from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.
But this is on the other side of the planet in Australia, where an altogether different phenomenon has shrouded the skies in smoke and sent locals scrambling for their cameras.
Ominous snapshots show hazard reduction fires lighting up the Blue Mountains in New South Wales on Wednesday, bearing a strong resemblance to the natural disaster presently gripping Hawaii.
In another, a blood red sun sinks under thick clouds of smoke in an apocalyptic vision that could come from a Hollywood disaster movie.
Photographer Dean Sewell, 47, said: “The hazard reduction burn at Mt Solitary was very unique as that area hasn’t been burnt in nearly 50 years.”
“A half-moon was lighting the mist, that helped in balancing the exposure between the existing fire and night sky, creating an overall volcanic effect.”
“The vantage point made it particularly special, these operations are normally conducted out of the public eye.”
“When you conduct a large-scale hazard reduction burn in the center of it all, it certainly made for a spectacular event.”
The operation came as Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano took the world stage across the pond, erupting a wall of lava out that consumed houses and cars in a trail of destruction.
The deliberately-lit blaze – the first in that area since 1955 – sent air-quality in Sydney to hazardous levels after drifting across the southern highlands.
Authorities execute controlled burns in Autumn before conditions grow too wet, and in Spring, before it becomes too windy, making fires hard manage.
Another local photographer, 20-year-old Ben Sanford, said: “Initially it looked like a big mushroom cloud like a bomb had gone off.”
“I’ve seen quite a few fires but nothing of such beauty visually. As always the images I’ve captured are not what the naked eye would see.”
“At night the fire was beautiful, like a strip of orange between the darkness.”