Tribute to Heroes of Caldor

Created to express collective, lasting gratitude to organizations and people who stepped forward to fight the fire, provide support, shelter fire victims, and care for their animals.

THE MISSION: Install a permanent, monumental tribute to the organizations and people who valiantly fought the 2021 Caldor Fire to save lives, homes, businesses, land, and livelihoods. In August and September 2021, The Caldor fire burned 221,775 acres over 347 square miles. Almost 800 structures were lost. The fire consumed nearly 2/3 of the Grizzly Flats community.             Scores of firefighting teams on land and in the air fought the fire around the clock for more than two months. Law enforcement, nonprofits, businesses, and volunteers stepped up to help as 53,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

​     Heartfelt handmade signs appeared to thank the heroes who finally tamed the fire. Grateful families returned home. The bronze Tribute to the Heroes of the Caldor Fire is a permanent acknowledgment of the skills, bravery, and commitment it took to manage and defeat the powerful wildfire.

THE VISION: Creating and installing the bronze Tribute to the Heroes of the Caldor Fire is a public acknowledgment of the people and resources it took to defend more than 220,000 acres of the Sierra. Over 600 homes were tragically lost in the early hours of the fire and many thousand more were threatened as the fire grew.

​     There was also an urgent need to protect safety and security as 53,000 residents were evacuated. Nonprofits, community groups, businesses, and individuals stepped forward to selflessly respond.

​     This permanent monument will call people to remember and honor the strength of community. It will become a landmark destination for local families and visitors. A point of pride for the entire region.

DESCRIPTION: Heroes of the Caldor Fire will be made of lasting bronze to withstand time, weather, and public contact. The sculpture will be installed on a concrete base decorated with local rock.

The design consists of two, 2-foot wide by 4-foot tall panels with relief images on both sides. The center panel is 12 inches wide with dedication lettering. Estimated total height of the completed installation is 6.5 feet.

Panels will depict Firefighting teams such as county, state, and federal firefighters; Indigenous fire managers; air support and wildlife impacted by the Caldor fire. A separate installation is planned to list organizations, volunteers, businesses, and individuals who played significant public service roles.

Bronze is ideal for outdoor conditions and endures for centuries. Upkeep in bronze is simple, requiring no special skills or materials. In most circumstances, the metal lasts for centuries without degradation. A base will be constructed to securely support the sculpture as well as provide seating and a good setting for visitor photographs.

Relief sculptures of part of 2 other panels panels in cl;ay and in progress. 

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The Heroes of Caldor bronze tribute began with conversations about elements and themes, and then became sketches. Materials such as a special oil-based clay that never dries (as does water-based clay) and a set of sturdy and smooth boards to be used as the "canvas" were purchased.

   I then sculpted images on the boards using my hands and specialized metal tools. The process of creating four distinct scenes that depict important aspects of the event took several months to complete. Panels pictured here are still being worked on for details and textures.

      Once completed, polyurethane molds are made. I've been lucky to have help from a local master mold maker, Don Demenno. When cured and hardened, we'll wax into the mold. The wax images are then further worked to the desired finish.

      The finished panels in wax are then delivered to a bronze foundry where another multi-step process makes them ready for firing. Learn more HERE.

      After being cast in metal the work goes to expert finishers. At this point, I'll again checks the work for approval before it is in the hands of a patineur. Again the artist is involved to ensure the finished product meets expectations.




The first of 6 Panels, created first in Clay on smooth board.

Keeping it Local

To the greatest extent possible artisans, planners, tradespeople, and materials will be from El Dorado County. The casting work will be done at a California bronze foundry.