Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy

Norton. May 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781324005148. $26.95. NAT HIST
Gee and Anguiano, Guardian reporters from the San Francisco Bay area, have penned a gripping, in-depth account of the Camp Fire that devastated Paradise, CA, on November 8, 2018, killing at least 85 people. The authors interviewed hundreds of residents, some with relatives who died in the fire, along with first responders, local officials, and scientists, to uncover the events leading up to and during the fire. They document the almost total destruction of Paradise, then cover the aftermath of the fire and the start of the town’s recovery. They provide information about fire science and the drought-stricken vegetation as well as weather conditions and other factors that fed the Camp Fire. Telling the story from myriad points of view as events unfold, Gee and Anguiano share the actions of fire and police department personnel and citizens such as employees of the local hospital who evacuated patients in their personal vehicles as the fire closed in on the town. Gee and Anguiano also expose the culpability of Pacific Gas and Electric, whose aging infrastructure has led to numerous costly wildfires, including the Camp Fire.
VERDICT A vividly descriptive, compelling, well-researched, page-turning work of narrative nonfiction, both heartbreaking and uplifting.

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