Yosemite firefall wows visitors

FRESNO, Calif. -- The stars have aligned in Yosemite for the first 'firefall' in four years. This happens when the setting sun lights up Horsetail Falls and makes the water look like lava from a volcano.

PHOTOS: Viewers share images of Horsetail Falls illuminated in Yosemite

It's a light show so rare, the window to see is open just 10 days in February and the conditions for it have to be just right.

Photographer Todd Beach said, "I took a day off work for this...it better show up." Mike McElvy took pictures of the 'firefall' on Thursday and he wanted to capture it again on Friday. "When this thing lights up, you'll hear the shutters going off for two minutes," McElvy said.

Another photographer, Tom Kelsey added, "look at it...it could be great."

Kelsey was in the sweet spot - he claimed it early in the morning to be in the perfect position to snap a clear shot. "I want to show the majesty of El Cap," Kelsey said, "when you see it, you'll say, that's Yosemite."

He was in a sea of people with hundreds of cameras - all hoping to do the same thing. Todd Beach, who took a day off work to see the 'firefall' was in the middle of the crowd. "We're out here, we're all nuts, sharing the same dream," Beach said.

Mazen Zabeneh stepped away from everyone and into the cold river to get a different perspective for his shot, "you just gotta watch where you step, it's like going fishin'...except, I'm using my camera," he said.

It's not easy to catch - four years of drought have kept it from happening but this year, there is snow. It's melting at the right time and the sun is in the right place to ignite the 'firefall'. "A little red...here we go...here we go," Beach said.

For a moment, the crowd was quiet - no voices, just shutters. Beach said, "that was supposed to be the money shot."

On this day, it didn't reach its full potential - the clouds got in the way and dimmed the lights. Beach didn't get the shot he was looking for but he says it still beats a day in the office, "better than being at home," he added, "you're still in Yosemite National Park."

Park Rangers say you have until Monday to catch the "firefall." It happens around 5:30 p.m. and only lasts a few minutes.
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