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Description

The harrowing story of the most destructive American wildfire in a century.

There is no precedent in postwar American history for the destruction of the town of Paradise, California. On November 8, 2018, the community of 27,000 people was swallowed by the ferocious Camp Fire, which razed virtually every home and killed at least 85 people. The catastrophe seared the American imagination, taking the front page of every major national newspaper and top billing on the news networks. It displaced tens of thousands of people, yielding a refugee crisis that continues to unfold.

Fire in Paradise is a dramatic and moving narrative of the disaster based on hundreds of in-depth interviews with residents, firefighters and police, and scientific experts. Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano are California-based journalists who have reported on Paradise since the day the fire began. Together they reveal the heroics of the first responders, the miraculous escapes of those who got out of Paradise, and the horrors experienced by those who were trapped. Their accounts are intimate and unforgettable, including the local who left her home on foot as fire approached while her 82-year-old father stayed to battle it; the firefighter who drove into the heart of the inferno in his bulldozer; the police officer who switched on his body camera to record what he thought would be his final moments as the flames closed in; and the mother who, less than 12 hours after giving birth in the local hospital, thought she would die in the chaotic evacuation with her baby in her lap. Gee and Anguiano also explain the science of wildfires, write powerfully about the role of the power company PG&E in the blaze, and describe the poignant efforts to raise Paradise from the ruins.

This is the story of a town at the forefront of a devastating global shift - of a remarkable landscape sucked ever drier of moisture and becoming inhospitable even to trees, now dying in their tens of millions and turning to kindling. It is also the story of a lost community, one that epitomized a provincial, affordable kind of Californian existence that is increasingly unattainable. It is, finally, a story of a new kind of fire behavior that firefighters have never witnessed before and barely know how to handle. What happened in Paradise was unprecedented in America. Yet according to climate scientists and fire experts, it will surely happen again.

©2020 Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano (P)2020 Recorded Books

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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kalutha
  • 30/06/2020

A gripping view of an American tragedy

I decided to listen to this audiobook because I have a therapy client who lived through the experience. I watched a lot of the coverage of the event at the time it happened, including some of the harrowing videos made by people in the process of trying to get away from the fire. The book was well-written on many levels. It was the story of what happened on the day of the fire, both in terms of the movement of the fire and the personal stories of several individuals who lived in Paradise. The description of the decisions that people made about whether to leave or "wait it out" were interesting examples of how people weigh various kinds of information versus going with their gut feelings. There were tragic stories of people who stayed behind, including because they thought that they could save some of the homes, and the regret and guilty feelings of people who wish that they had insisted that their loved one leave while there was time. There were many stories of how people helped one another, some in heroic ways. And a description of the immediate and longer-term aftermath of the fire. Several aspects of this were, of course, very sad. I came away with an appreciation of the people who lived in Paradise, in their fierce independence, caring and respect for one another, and their love of their natural surroundings. Another layer of the book involved the political and economic aspects of the management and mismanagement of the fire by the electric company along with the inadequacy of the federal response in terms of emergency management. This information was woven throughout the story without detracting from it. The narrator was an excellent choice for this book. He had a sort of "grizzled" voice that fit perfectly with the story. He was able to convey the urgency of the situation during the suspenseful passages describing the height of the emergency and to adjust his pace and delivery for other sections. I listened to the book straight through.

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Swamitanabe
  • 29/08/2020

Everyone must hear this

It is horrific, compelling... a story that gets inside you where the fragility of everything you care about most deeply is revealed. This is a powerful and compelling story, beautifully written and read. We must listen and *learn!

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • N. Zett
  • 09/08/2020

Riveting. Very well written. Very well narrated.

One chapter of this book was sent to me via an online forum. It was so riveting and well written that I was driven to hear the rest of the story. Fire in Paridise is a comprehensive documentation of the disastrous 2018 wildfire. It is a labor of love to all who lost their lives, to all who lost loved ones and livelihoods, to all the heroes involved, and to the town and surrounding region of Paradise, CA. It rolls lessons in history, geography, biology, industry and technology together into a terrifying account of the destruction of an entire town. Page by page, personal story by personal story, it recounts in heartbreaking detail the human cost of the "perfect fire."

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • soup cook
  • 19/07/2020

Gripping, heartbreaking, a true cautionary tale

Vividly recounts the fire & its aftermath as experienced by those who survived it and those who didn't

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christie
  • 12/07/2020

Heart wrenching and hopeful

This is such a heart wrenching, tragic story. It grabs your attention and you can’t stop listening. My lifelong friends of fifty years (a couple) retired to Paradise about 7 years ago from Southern California where we still live. Because of my friend’s experience in Southern California living with fires close by and clearing his land each year, his Paradise land was completely cleared. They still had big trees but they had nothing to burn around their house, unlike many of their neighbors. They awoke early in the morning to visible flames close by. Their house was within a few blocks of where the fire jumped the Feather River in the north east part of town. They knew to leave with 70 mile an hour winds blowing toward their home. They grabbed their dogs and got out immediately taking two vehicles. A small car and their older RV. The wife and two dogs got right out In the small car but the RV stalled on Skyway and the husband and a small dog had to walk out. For at least a couple of weeks they didn’t know if their home survived. They were sure that it didn’t. But it did. They lost a barn and a carpentry shop with all the tools but the wood 1970’s cabin was scorched on the outside but fine and only smoke damaged on the inside. The large new deck was scorched but their fully remodeled home was there. They stayed with friends nearby for about six weeks. They bought a newer motor home planning to live in it while the smoke damage was fixed and they could get water and power. They lived so many of the things described in this book. They were lucky. They survived. Most of the homes on their street didn’t. Some of their immediate neighbors didn’t want to leave. My friends were insured and might have left and bought a new home somewhere else but their house was still there. Insurance wasn’t going to pay out just because the town was gone. No town, no water, no power, no telephone or internet for months. Even now, it isn’t all repaired. They lived through winter rain and snow in the motor home on bottled water and a generator and just recently this year things are starting to feel more normal for them. They do love it there but it isn’t the same place it was. Very few people are back. Paradise was a spectacular place. Absolutely beautiful but it will never be the same. This is such a sad story. I was afraid this book would be too grisly but it wasn’t. There were parts that were hard to take. It was intense, gripping and well written. The personal stories were touching and I was so anxious to find out what happened to the people. This had to happen I guess to make these power companies finally stop causing all these fires and maintain their equipment. The greed is unbelievable in these big corporations with stock holders sucking the profits while the state burns. Very good book. Really excellent reader.