A dramatic, revelatory account of the female inmate firefighters who battle California wildfires.
Shawna was overcome by the claustrophobia, the heat, the smoke, the fire, all just down the canyon and up the ravine. She was feeling the adrenaline, but also the terror of doing something for the first time. She knew how to run with a backpack; they had trained her physically. But that’s not training for flames. That’s not live fire.
California’s fire season gets hotter, longer, and more extreme every year — fire season is now year-round. Of the thousands of firefighters who battle California’s blazes every year, roughly 30 percent of the on-the-ground wildland crews are inmates earning a dollar an hour. Approximately 200 of those firefighters are women serving on all-female crews.
In Breathing Fire, Jaime Lowe expands on her revelatory work for The New York Times Magazine. She has spent years getting to know dozens of women who have participated in the fire camp program and spoken to captains, family and friends, correctional officers, and camp commanders. The result is a rare, illuminating look at how the fire camps actually operate — a story that encompasses California’s underlying catastrophes of climate change, economic disparity, and historical injustice, but also draws on deeply personal histories, relationships, desires, frustrations, and the emotional and physical intensity of firefighting.
Lowe’s reporting is a groundbreaking investigation of the prison system, and an intimate portrayal of the women of California’s Correctional Camps who put their lives on the line, while imprisoned, to save a state in peril.
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|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Part I Shawna Lynn Jones and the Women of Crew 13-3
1 The Mulholland Fire, February 25, 2016 3
2 The Aftermath 28
3 Malibu Conservation Camp #13, Four Months Later 49
Part II "The Girls in Oranges Hiking the Mountain"
4 The Trap: Lancaster, Antelope Valley 79
5 Lynwood, The Largest Women's Jail Facility in the United States 90
6 California Institution for Women, Firefighting Training 100
7 The Conservation Camps: Puerta La Cruz #14 and Rainbow #2 120
Part III The Golden State of Incarceration
8 Inmate Labor: San Quentin to the Pacific Coast Highway 147
9 Carla: Chowghilla to Childbirth 160
10 Selena: CRS Crazy Riders to First Saw 175
11 The Sand Fire and the Detwiler Fire 183
12 CDCR Health Care, A.K.A. "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" 189
Part IV Release
13 Alisha: On Trial 199
14 Sonya: Life on Parole 216
15 Marquet: Prep Work to Pulpit to Fire School 224
16 Whitney: The Hotshot 232
17 The Firefighters 252
A Note On Sources 285