Free World - September 15, 2021

Jeff Whited sits among his destroyed belongings in Sycan Estates, Ore., on July …


Jeff Whited sits among his destroyed belongings in Sycan Estates, Ore., on July 22. The Bootleg Fire arrived “just like a freight train,” says Whited. “It looks like a freaking bomb went off.” The 63-year-old had been helping clean up the wreckage of his brother’s burned-down house when flames reached his own. Guitars and amplifiers, snowmobiles and trucks, engine parts, chain saws, a huge cache of hand tools and much more—all gone, Whited says. “This sure was a beautiful place,” he says. “It doesn’t leave a beautiful memory with me, not this picture of it.” At the grave of his partner on his 12-acre property, wind chimes used to hang in the trees. Whited recalls asking why she wanted so many of them, to which she replied, “When I’m gone, baby, you’ll know I’m still there when you hear ’em.” After the fire, he says, “I can’t hear one. They’re gone. Every wind chime.” Read more about the climate crisis in the American West, and see more pictures, at the link in bio. Photograph by @adamfergusonstudio for TIME



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