Saturday, May 16, 2015

On the Burning Edge

On the Burning Edge by Kyle Dickman
Random House: 5/12/2015
eBook review copy, 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780553392128

My Thoughts:

On the Burning Edge by Kyle Dickman is a highly recommended, in depth look at the 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, AZ., and the Yarnell, AZ., wildfire that claimed 19 of their lives.

Dickman, a former hotshot, spent five years fighting wildfires in California. His insider's knowledge and viewpoint give us information about the group and how they train and interact. While providing the information on a brief history of wildfire firefighting teams,  and how a hotshot team trains and works fighting wildfires, he focuses mainly on the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He then gives us a well-researched inside glimpse at each of the members of the team. Dickman carefully covers each member of the crew and even includes their last text messages sent to loved ones.

The wildfire in Yarnell was sparked by a lightning bolt and quickly turned into an inferno that eventually devoured more than eight thousand acres in northern Arizona. Anyone who has ever seen a wildfire take off will understand the terror and unpredictability of a wildfire. Those of us who have done so, have also watched and applauded the dedicated crews coming in to fight those fires. While the actual firefighting portion of the book may seem scant, On the Burning Edge is a memorable and heartbreaking account of the men who fought the fire.

I remember vividly when living in the west seeing a lightning strike hit a nearby mountain and then almost immediately seeing smoke arise from the mountain. It is a horrifying feeling to watch a fire take off and know your family could be in the path of a wildfire. Furthermore, these fires seemed to be a yearly occurrence. So many people across the USA depend on the hotshots and crews of dedicated firefighters from across the West to come in and fight the fires. (A shout out to those flying helicopters and dumping flame retardant on the fires too.)

Dickman does a good job presenting the information and telling the story of the tragic event. It is also a story of warning and caution. With the increased population and well publicized  decrease in the water supply in the West, there are certainly going to be an increase of fires that threaten populated areas and more young men will be in harm’s way fighting the fires.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.

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