Meet the Guy Behind Those Fire Shots

Noah Berger travels the state chasing fires.


Fire season in California never ends, thanks to the new normal. And there’s one man in the East Bay — Noah Berger — who has become the go-to guy for photographing these terrifying wildfire infernos.

An Alamedan, Berger is usually packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, dashing off on road trips to far-flung, dangerous destinations with roaring fires, air-borne sparks, and unbearable heat, where he’ll work exhausting hours for many days. What drives him? Adrenaline, mostly.

Patrick Hoge spins the tale of the intrepid photojournalist who apparently fears no flames in “The Fire Chaser,” page 26. This photo-driven article shows off Berger’s vivid images of flying embers and towering flames, and the aftermath and destruction of fires. Berger steps back to capture pensive firefighters in silhouette, surrounded by raging fire, and moves in close to show a smudge-faced fire-crew member conveying a grimace of worry and concern. Berger has been to many of these fiery disasters, from the Thomas and Mendocino Complex fires to the Delta and the Cold fires and many others in between, cataloging them all with his camera for news agencies like The Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Perhaps the rousing read will fire you up for a bit of holiday shopping. Our annual gift guide, “Festive Finds for Family & Friends,” on page 44, offers two dozen sure-to-please ideas for fashionistas, beer dudes, electronic nerds, foodies, and others — practically everyone on your list, right? It has you covered on the clothing and apparel, food and drink, home, electronics, pet, and service fronts, so happy holiday treasure hunting.

Of course, this is the season for giving, and “Business With a Charitable Twist,” page 30, checks in with key players at three very different East Bay businesses — office supply giant Give Something Back, successful marijuana retailer Bloom Farms, and major music and concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment — on how their business philosophies align with charitable giving. The notion of doing good while and doing business is not new, but these companies seem to be doing a pretty good job at it, with their contributions aiding Clínica de la Raza, the Youth Employment Partnership, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and music therapy for hospitalized kids at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. And in case you need a worthy cause, the “Guide to Charitable Giving and Galas,” page 35, has more suggestions than you can count.

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