Ruiz, who works as a farm mechanic, was driving on Aug. 16 when he saw a foreboding cloud moving in over farm fields in Salinas.
"It started getting black. It's a wildfire," Ruiz recalled. "I pulled over at one of our romaine lettuce fields and I grabbed the picture. It was nice and clear and sunny, and, next thing you know, that great big ol' plume of smoke was over the Salinas Valley."
The River Fire burned for 19 days, consuming 48,000 acres and destroying 30 structures.