When I was a kid, the mountain behind my Southern California home burned. We could see the fire coming many miles and hours away, creeping west across the front face of the San Gabriels. By midday, they sent us home from school, and I vividly remember (I must have been 10) the smell and that impossible red light of sun filtered through smoke. We spent that evening up on our wood shake roof, watering it down and watching the mountain burn. At some point, they lit a backfire, and the hillside exploded from bottom to top. We lived a couple of miles from the fire, and you could feel the heat.
It was the coolest, scariest thing I had ever seen.
This picture from Chucks Chicken, palm trees and flame as Griffith Park burns, gives me shivers. (Hat tip Kit Stolz.)