Synopses & Reviews
A riveting account of the deadly Thirtymile fire and the controversy and recriminations that raged in its aftermath, from our premier chronicler of wildfires and those who fight them
The Thirtymile fire in the remote North Cascade range near the Canadian border in Washington began as a simple mop-up operation. In a few hours, a series of catastrophic errors led to the entrapment and deaths of four members of the fire crew--two teen-age girls and two young men. Each had brought order and meaning to their lives by joining the fire world. Then the very flames they pursued turned on them, extinguishing their lives. When the victims were blamed for their own deaths, the charge brought a storm of controversy that undermined the firefighting community.
Continuing a tradition established in his previous books, and by his father Norman's Young Men and Fire, John N. Maclean serves as an unflinching guide to the rogue fire's unexpected violence--which is almost matched by the passions released by the official verdict of the blaze. Weaving together the astonishing stories told by the witnesses, the victims' family members, and the official reports, Maclean produces a dramatic narrative of a catastrophe that has changed the way fire is fought. More than anything, it is a story of humanity at risk when wildfire, ancient and unpredictable, breaks loose
"'On July 9, 2001, the hot exhaust of a state vehicle on fire patrol ignited the major Libby South Fire in the North Cascades Range in central Washington State. When a smaller blaze broke out later that evening some miles to the north in the narrow Chewuch River canyon near the Canadian border, resources were already stretched, and only a small, rookie-laden crew was deployed. This Thirtymile Fire should have been a simple operation, but instead it blew up into a towering inferno of double fire-plumes spinning tornado-like in opposite directions, scorching 9,324 wildland acres. In two weeks, 1,000 firefighters and dozens of helicopters, bulldozers and other heavy equipment were deployed, costing $4.5 million and the lives of four fire fighters. A controversial official investigation claimed that the firefighters defied authority and bore responsibility for their own deaths. Maclean (Fire and Ashes) interviewed families, survivors, investigators and fire experts, and the result is an evenhanded, lucid re-creation of catastrophe and its aftermath. The author gives a human face to national headlines, capturing the dignity and sense of mission of the lost firefighters, such as Karen FitzPatrick, age 18, a born-again Christian who sought, through firefighting, to 'resolve the ageless conflict between the desires of the spirit and those of the flesh.' (June 1) ' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Pitilessly compelling, the sort of saga devoured in one horrified sitting.”—National Geographic Adventure
The Thirtymile Fire in the North Cascade Range near the Canadian border of Washington began as a simple mop-up operation; in a few hours, a series of catastrophic errors led to the entrapment and deaths of four members of the fire crew—two teenage girls and two young men. Each had brought order and meaning to their lives by joining the firefighting world. Then the very flames they pursued turned on them, extinguishing their lives.
Weaving together the astonishing stories told by the fires witnesses and, later, the victims family members and the response to the official reports, John N. Maclean creates a riveting account of the deadly Thirtymile Fire and the controversy and recriminations that raged in its aftermath.
About the Author
John N. Macleans Fire on the Mountain was the MPBA best nonfiction title of 1999. A newspaper reporter and longtime student of wildfire, he assisted in the posthumous publication of his father, Norman Macleans, Young Men and Fire. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Montana. Fire and Ashes (0-8050-7591-7) was selected as a Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2003.