Synopses & Reviews
The Esperanza Fire started October 26, 2006, in the San Jacinto Mountains above the Banning Pass near Cabazon, California. It destroyed 41,000 acres and dozens of homes and cost the taxpayers $16 million dollars. But by far the highest costs of the conflagration were the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first engine crew ever killed fighting a wildland blaze. Fire and superheated gases had erupted in a freak “area ignition,” sending flames racing across three-quarters of a mile in mere seconds, engulfing the crew and the house they were defending.
The deadly blaze was quickly determined to be no accident. Within a week, serial arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler was arrested and charged with almost two dozen counts of arson—and five counts of first degree murder. The Esperanza Fire recounts with drama and precision the gripping details of the fire and of Oyler’s precedent-shattering trial and its stunning conclusion.
John Maclean spent more than five years researching the Esperanza Fire and covering the trial of Raymond Oyler. The result is a thrilling, moment-to-moment insider’s chronicle of that devastating and tragic inferno and the pursuit, capture, and prosecution of the man who intentionally set it.
"It reads like a taut murder mystery, a whodunit novel you can't put down."
“Maclean is a fine storyteller . . . he writes a chiseled prose that does justice to the action.”
—The Washington Post Wildfire magazine
"Maclean is a highly skilled journalist and a fine writer. His ability to mold fragments from the incident--thoughts, actions, variables and decisions--into a fluid account is riveting. . . . Fair, complete and masterfully done."
“Poetic and impeccably reported.”
“Larkin brings a theatrical style, respectfully, to the narration of this true story.”
A riveting, you-are-there account of the tightly-knit forest service engine crew that perished battling “the perfect storm of wildland fires,” which led to the first-ever conviction of a wildland arsonist for first degree murder.
About the Author
PETE LARKIN has wide and deep voiceover and on-camera experience and has worked in virtually all media. In addition to his extensive narration and theater work, he has served as the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988-1993 and as a radio personality in Baltimore, Washington and New York.
JOHN NORMAN MACLEAN is an award-winning author and journalist who has written about wildland fire for more than 15 years. His first book, Fire on the Mountain, was featured in two documentaries by Dateline NBC and the History Channel. He has also written Fire and Ashes and The Thirtymile Fire, both critically acclaimed. He lives in Washington, DC.