In 2015, wildfires blazed across 10 million acres of the United States, racking up more than $6 billion in damages. And yet, despite their status as one of the most destructive natural disasters on the planet, wildfires possess a uncanny beauty.

There's no better aesthetic example of this sublime force of nature than "Fire Chasers," a recently released short time-lapse film by artist Jeff Frost.

Thanks to unprecedented access granted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (also known as Cal Fire), Frost ventured into the heart of these dangerous wildfires to document their smoking beauty. Along the way, he cast his lens upon the lives of the firefighters who battle the sweeping blazes, which affect not only local communities but the environment at large.

"As each year gets hotter and fire season in the state continues to expand, I have become increasingly concerned about our continued existence on this planet," Frost tells National Geographic. "I wanted to show what we are up against right now, let alone down the road when global warming intensifies heat and drought, which will further exacerbate wildfires."

The short time-lapse film above is just a glimpse of a larger, multi-tiered project by Frost that includes a photo book, a feature-length documentary and an art film.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.