Capturing the fiery ordeal of Ed Vuolo through reportorial illustration
March 02, 2002
Imagine being trapped in a whirlwind of flames, an environment where the air seems to combust, and the world around you blurs into a chaotic dance of fire and heat. For Ed Vuolo this was his reality—a visceral, firsthand encounter with an inferno that inspired this reportorial illustration for Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
About the project
Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Tom Bayles embarked on a unique journalistic journey, going beyond the role of a mere observer. In preparation for wildfire coverage, Bayles attended firefighting training school and qualified as a volunteer firefighter with the Florida Division of Forestry. Over six months, he served with forestry rangers, helping fight some of the worst wildfires of the season and documenting their experiences from inside the fire.
As part of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune team, I was privileged with translating these gripping accounts into illustrative form. Each image aimed to capture the raw courage and determination exhibited by Ed Vuolo and his fellow firefighters.
Below are additional vignettes from the series that depict various facets of the firefighting experience.
One of several accounts Bayles wrote in a series of articles for the newspaper described the experience of Ed Vuolo.
“He tries for one more breath, but finds no oxygen. The fire has used it all. He jams his eyes shut and guns his tractor blindly forward. He doesn't know how thick the fire is, or if he will run into a trench or a tree or another ranger on the other side. But staying still means dying.”
— Tom Bayles, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 6 March 2002