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Fire on the Mountain

Maclean, John N.

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ISBN 10: 0671573675 / ISBN 13: 9780671573676
Verlag: Audioworks, 1999
Gebraucht Zustand Used No Binding
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On the morning of July 3, 1994, the site of a forest fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado was wrongly recorded by the district's Bureau of Land Management office as taking place in South Canyon, thereby mislabeling forever one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of firefighting. That seemingly small human error foreshadowed the numerous other minor errors that, three days later, would be compounded into the deaths of fourteen firefighters, four of them women. In this dramatic reconstruction of the disaster and its aftermath, John N. Maclean tells the heroic and cautionary story of people who were experts in their field but became the victims of nature at its most unforgiving.

No one is better equipped to tell this story than the author, whose father, Norman Maclean, wrote the classic account of Mann Gulch, Young Men and Fire, in whose publication the younger Maclean assisted after his father's death. Fire on the Mountain took almost five years to complete and involved nearly fifty thousand miles of auto travel. The audiobook brings to light many new facts about the fire through dozens of freedom of Information Act requests and countless interviews with survivors and members of the official investigating team, one of whose members refused to sign the final report after a long and bitter debate about where the blame for what happened should be placed.

Fire on the Mountain is, however, more than mere investigative journalism. While offering action and adventure storytelling at its best, it also provides deeply moving insights into the lives and dreams of a special breed of people who put their own well-being on the line as part of their daily jobs.

Rezension: Colorado and its neighboring states battle thousands of wildfires every year, scrub and sagebrush blazes often ignited by lightning strikes in the dry, hot days of summer. A vast, intertwined firefighting infrastructure combining local resources with agencies like the Forest Service and the BLM, reacts to these flare-ups as if going to war--and in theory, the coordination and communication ensures that fires are fought in the most efficient and safe manner possible. But while most wildfires in Colorado end up costing just over $60,000 on average with no loss of life, the catastrophic South Canyon fire of 1994 burned for 10 days, at the ultimate cost of $4.5 million and the lives of 14 firefighters. OSHA would later describe the coordinated action flatly as a "management failure," and concurrent investigations would reveal a tangled web of jealous rivalries, bureaucratic bungling, and severe morale problems. (One of the early on-scene supervisors would later tell investigators, "Leadership in this state sucks.")

John Maclean (son of Norman Maclean, who wrote both A River Runs Through It and an award-winning account of Montana's deadly 1949 Mann Gulch fire) skillfully unfolds that summer's foreboding blow-by-blow. Fire on the Mountain weaves together a tense narrative of almost cinematic action, starring ballsy cowboy smokejumpers, frustrated federal middle managers, seasoned "hotshots" flown in like commandos, pissed-off tanker pilots, and well-intentioned but spin-wary politicians. Maclean's well-sketched personalities bring the action on the ground convincingly to life--and knowing up front that many of his main characters won't survive South Canyon makes this tragic tale that much more compelling. --Paul Hughes

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Fire on the Mountain

Verlag: Audioworks

Erscheinungsdatum: 1999

Einband: No Binding

Zustand: Used


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