Sunday, July 14, 2024
Book Review

Fires and wildfires

Knowing what to do and other stories


Fires and wildfires

Knowing what to do and other stories

The pictures are terrifying and heartbreaking.

That's no cozy fire in any of them. No, what you see makes you want to flee, no matter where you sit when you see the photos. If a wildfire happens in your area, what do you do? How do you keep your family safe? Reach for these great books and start learning.

Humans wouldn't be where we are without harnessing fire millennia ago. We need fire, but not like this: in "Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World" (Knopf, $32,50), author John Vaillant tells the tale of a 2018 wildfire in the center of Canada's oil industry, and how nearly 90,000 people had to run for their lives in that ultra-flammable area. But that's only part of the story Vaillant tells: the other part is that it could happen again...

Indeed, says Jeff Goodell in "The Heat Will Kill You First" (Little, Brown, $29.00), we live in a world that's different now than it was even just a few decades ago. The seasons are skewed, he says, temperatures are higher, crops are affected, pests seem to be taking advantage of it, and it's only going to get worse.

Think you need more air conditioning?  Read this fascinating book first.

What is it like to be someone who battles a fire? In "Burnt: A Memoir of Fighting Fire" by Clare Frank (Abrams Press, $27.00), you'll read about being a female firefighter in what was traditionally a man's world. Author Frank lives in Northern California and has been battling blazes since she was seventeen years old; this book will take you from a spark of idea to a passion and a job she loves. It's a story of risk and responsibility, of enormous amounts of courage, and you'll love it.

Finally, how can you be sure that you, your family, and your home are safe from fire?  "This is Wildfire: How to Protect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Community in the Age of Heat" by Nick Mott and Justin Angle, illustrated by Jessy Stevenson (Bloomsbury, $27.99) is a great way to begin, with solid ideas you can implement now and explanations for things you may not quite understand. Learn the history of fighting wildfires, what happens when a fire is spotted, how to lower risks of wildfires and keep your home safe, and how to understand the jargon used by professionals. What happens when you need to leave quickly and what might you face when you're allowed to go back to your home-site again?

No matter where you live – country or city, dry area or one that's green – this book is a great, and almost absolutely mandatory, reference source.

And if you need even more, head for your local bookstore or library and ask for help from the knowledgeable person there. Your librarian or bookseller will figure out what you need, and they'll put the right book directly in your hands, so you know what to do this fire season.

Then just picture yourself being safe.

Books on Fires and Wildfires by various authors

c.2023, various publishers                               $27.00 - $32.50                       varied page counts