There have been more than a few occasions in my life when I felt that I was witnessing something that few people will ever see. You could say that everything that each of us experiences is by definition, a once-in-a-lifetime event. The thing is that in this case, I was
smart lucky enough to have had my trusty Pentax ME Super and a fresh roll of Kodachrome in hand.
This image was shot in Thule, Greenland in 1985 or ’86. As far as I know, it’s the only barracks fire ever to have occurred there. The devastating fire started very early in the morning, during Julemand – an annual fund-raising event occurring every Christmastime in Thule. (I have several fun photos from this fun event, and maybe I will get around to posting some one day.) Anyway, at around 3:00 AM, while photographing the marathon event at the Thule Air Base TV station, someone yelled, “Fire!”
The fast-moving fire completely consumed the living spaces of several Danish friends in about an hour. Nothing survived. All who lived in Barracks 204 lost everything.
The next morning, Erik discovered that his collection of walrus tusks – arranged neatly by size – looked as if it had somehow survived the inferno. But, although their shape had not changed, their composition had. The tusks had been baked into pure, almost weightless ash.