Wall of Flame: The Heroic Battle to Save Southern Californiaby Erich Krauss
RCFD Deputy Chief Mike
"They say prayer changes things. I believe it. What happened, or didn't happen, in Rancho Cucamonga on the night of October 25, 2003, is hard to explain any other way. Certainly, good planning, years of training, and courageous firefighting contributed to the success we experienced in Rancho, but it does not tell the whole story."
RCFD Deputy Chief Mike Bell
Every fall, Southern California faces an outbreak of wildfiresbut in October 2003, the region fell victim to one of its worst fire sieges ever. Thirteen wildfires raged out of control across arid landscapes that were ripe for disaster. Despite well-laid plans and agreements made far in advance of the onslaught, California's bravest firefighters were caught off guard, facing the worst natural disaster of their careers.
In Rancho Cucamonga, situated at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, the Grand Prix Fire destroyed homes, property, land, and lives. Wall of Flame goes to the front lines of the surging blaze that threatened to ravage Rancho and the quaint little towns surrounding it, tracing the timeline of events from the massive inferno's origin all the way through to its hard-fought end.
Within seconds of the first reports of a grass fire, troops began to roll. But this fire was like no other, and things quickly started going wrong. The helicopter pilot braving the smoke to dump water over the fire was unable to release his bucket. A critical delay in getting two airtankers over the scene lost even more precious minutes, as the fire began to rage out of control.
Back on the ground, firefighters were digging lines and risking their lives to contain the fire that was devouring acres at a time. But without critical support from above, the Grand Prix surged to thirty-five hundred acres overnight, pushing upslope to the northeast and then downhill toward Lytle Creek. And then, all hell broke loose. The Santa Ana winds kicked in, and with the fire at its doorstep, Rancho Cucamonga's airtight evacuation plan fell to pieces amidst pandemonium. The "ordinary" acts of heroism required every year were no longer enough.
With two-hundred-foot flames licking at their backs and blistering heat breathing down their necks, California's firefighters faced the most intense and personal battles of their careers. Wall of Flame is a riveting true account of the heroic firefighters who refused to back down until the last embers of their city's most devastating fire were extinguished.
- Turner Publishing Company
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- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
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- 3 MB
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Meet the Author
ERICH KRAUSS is a freelance journalist who has written for the New York Times and is the author of seven other books, including On the Line: Inside the U.S. Border Patrol and Wave of Destruction: The Stories of Four Families and History's Deadliest Tsunami, which focuses on the December 2004 tsunami that ravaged the coastlines of Southeast Asia. He lives in San Diego.
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