Sunday, September 30, 2012

Firefighting Gone Wild

After having written three books and a novella about firefighters, I finally feel comfortable writing about structure fires and life at the firehouse. Not so comfortable that I don't consult with a professional, of course. I've mentioned my "fire guru" before (thank you, Rick!!)

But now, for my next fireman book, I'm off on a whole new tangent -- wildfires.  

Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado
One of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel is about to volunteer to help battle a massive wildfire threatening his hometown in Nevada. And that means I have to learn about a whole new kind of firefighting. I've seen so many news stories about forest fires, wilderness fires, brushfires -- you probably have too. It was a particularly brutal summer in Colorado, Utah and Arizona. You may even have had a close call with one. When I lived in LA, brushfire season brought some scary times. I remember ash particles coating my car, apocalyptic skies, twenty-four hour news coverage.

Battling the Trinity Ridge Fire in Boise National Forest
In recent years, wildfires have gotten bigger and more dangerous. One firefighter told me that fires are behaving in new ways -- the rate of spread isn't predictable anymore. Hotter temperatures and drier hillsides mean that fires will simply leap over the firefighters to the next hill. I'm learning about smoke-jumpers, hotshot crews, pilots and heli-rapellers. Wildland firefighting is fascinating, dangerous, and a source of endless storylines. But boy, do I have a lot to learn! These days, I'm all about the research.

Have you had a close encounter with a wildfire? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a great week -



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  2. My husband has "deployed" with the Central TX strike team a few times to cover wildfires here and it's always a nerve wracking time while he's away. Luckily he didn't go to the Bastrop, TX fire but our dept did send a few of our buddies. They said it was insane. I'm in a town about 100 miles south of Bastrop and we could see the smoke billows in the distance. It was scary stuff.

  3. Hi Jenny,

    My folks have lots of friends around Ft Davis and Marfa who've been through wildfires. Let me know if you'd like me to connect you to any of them. One story I remember is of the fire last year that raced at 30 mph through several communities in the area. One friend who went to fight the fire at the Marfa airport called his wife to tell her to evacuate immediately. The wildfire was heading her way fast. She looked around for a second or two, grabbed their best bottle of wine and the dog, and said goodbye to their house.

  4. I look forward to reading it! I've read a few novels about smoke jumpers and find that fascinating. Have fun!

  5. No direct experience myself, but good friends had to evacuate their house when the Oakland Hills burned in 1991. My husband drove up to help after getting a frantic call - and remember, this is before cell phones! Two cars worth of stuff made a big difference to their peace of mind. Fortunately, their house did not burn, and they were able to return.

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