Iconic Shipwreck’s Fire Likely Caused by Light Painting Photographer


An iconic shipwrecked fishing boat in Point Reyes, California, was severely damaged by a fire yesterday, and it may have been caused by a photographer’s long-exposure light-painting photo involving sparks from burning steel wool.

The Marin Independent Journal reports that the fishing boat at Tomales Bay, a beloved local landmark and a popular subject of photos, was engulfed in flames at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning when the local volunteer fire department was called to it. After being put out at 4 a.m. after a 2 hour battle, it was discovered that the entire stern of the boat had been destroyed.

Locals soon discovered that an amateur photographer had posted a long exposure sparks photo on Instagram — the shot, which has since been deleted, featured the same boat (pre-fire), and had been posted the same night of the blaze.

Fire Chief Jim Fox tells the Marin Independent Journal that someone had called to clear their name of the blaze, and that it’s likely that no further action will be taken to identify the culprit.

“We won’t investigate something when there’s no evidence of a crime or actual damage,” Fox says. “This was already a derelict vessel. I don’t know how you can damage something that’s already broken.”

Boat behind Inverness store. Still smoldering. Phoebe von Reis Sharron Drake. Just walked over there.

Posted by Jane Frances Vait on Monday, February 22, 2016

But from photos and messages being posted on social media, it’s clear that locals are furious that a photographer may have wrecked the beloved wreck.

Apparently the old iconic #pointreyes boat was burned down this week. Sad. #bw #boat #marin #america

A photo posted by Thomas Hawk (@thomashawk) on

Leave it how you found it. #PointReyesShipWreck #PointReyes

A photo posted by Freehand Profit (@freehandprofit) on

“Amateur or professional, burning down a photo spot, damaging a landscape, even alternating a place to get a different image is worthless,” photographer Fede Benavides tells PetaPixel. “That is not what photography is about and if people continue to behave like this, it will ruin the fun for all of us.”

“When they start to put bans on places saying where we can or cannot take pictures, don’t ask yourself or the guards why, just think back on ‘photographers’ like this guy.”