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Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire

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The definitive firsthand account of California's Camp Fire--the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century--and a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a secon The definitive firsthand account of California's Camp Fire--the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century--and a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a second. Less than two hours after it ignited, residents were trapped in flames, cremated in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson was there as the town of Paradise burned. She saw the smoldering rubble of a historic covered bridge and the beloved Black Bear Diner, and she stayed long afterward, visiting shelters, hotels, and makeshift camps. Drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and reams of public records, including 911 calls and testimony from a grand jury investigation, Johnson provides a minute-by-minute account of the Camp Fire, following residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses. Johnson documents the unfolding tragedy with empathy and nuance. But she also investigates the root causes, from runaway climate change to a deeply flawed alert system to Pacific Gas and Electric's decades-long neglect of critical infrastructure. A cautionary tale for a new era of megafires, Paradise is the gripping story of a town wiped off the map and the determination of its people to rise again.


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The definitive firsthand account of California's Camp Fire--the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century--and a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a secon The definitive firsthand account of California's Camp Fire--the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century--and a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a second. Less than two hours after it ignited, residents were trapped in flames, cremated in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson was there as the town of Paradise burned. She saw the smoldering rubble of a historic covered bridge and the beloved Black Bear Diner, and she stayed long afterward, visiting shelters, hotels, and makeshift camps. Drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and reams of public records, including 911 calls and testimony from a grand jury investigation, Johnson provides a minute-by-minute account of the Camp Fire, following residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses. Johnson documents the unfolding tragedy with empathy and nuance. But she also investigates the root causes, from runaway climate change to a deeply flawed alert system to Pacific Gas and Electric's decades-long neglect of critical infrastructure. A cautionary tale for a new era of megafires, Paradise is the gripping story of a town wiped off the map and the determination of its people to rise again.

30 review for Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yun

    At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water and sap stored in tree trunks began to boil. The trees sweated until--their cell walls bursting--they combusted. At 6:15 am on November 8, 2018, a spark ignited next to a transmission tower situated near the town of Paradise. Two hours later, the entire town was in flames. What follows is the harrowing tale of the people of this community as they struggled to stay alive in the inferno, then afterwards as they tried to understand what happened and how to mo At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water and sap stored in tree trunks began to boil. The trees sweated until--their cell walls bursting--they combusted. At 6:15 am on November 8, 2018, a spark ignited next to a transmission tower situated near the town of Paradise. Two hours later, the entire town was in flames. What follows is the harrowing tale of the people of this community as they struggled to stay alive in the inferno, then afterwards as they tried to understand what happened and how to move on and rebuild. I've been hearing about wildfires for years, more so recently than ever before. And living in the Pacific Northwest, we usually get a week or two of bad air blown in from nearby towns and states every year during wildfire season. But reading this book really brought the devastation to life, not just its destruction in terms of size, but also the human toll that it inevitably carries. The book introduces us to a few folks in the community, including firefighters, medical personnel, a school bus driver, and a new mother, and we follow them as the horror of the fire unfolds. The narrative is vivid and compelling, often reading more like a thriller than a non-fiction book. The scenes laid out, with embers raining down, smoke turning the sky as black as night and choking the air, and the temperature soaring past 100 degrees, captures this small town on the west coast during its apocalypse. In addition, the book explores the trauma that this experience leaves on its inhabitants and the town itself, as well as implications for its future. It also examines all that went wrong in order for this to have happened, including utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric's negligence in causing the spark that lit the fire, as well as climate change, aging buildings and infrastructure, a malfunctioning alert system, and lack of a coherent evacuation plan. This was such a skillfully-written account, helping me understand not just what happened with this particular fire in Paradise, but also of wildfires in general. It was gripping and visceral, and it made my heart ache for the people of this town and all who were affected. Unfortunately, wildfires will only get worse from here, so this feels like an essential book for all who want to understand. My heartfelt thanks for the advance copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    The wind slammed against the Harding-era transmission tower, ripping a heavy electrical line from its brittle iron hook. It was 6:15 A.M. The 143-pound, 115-kilovolt braided aluminum wire—known as a jumper cable—fell through the air. A piece of the rusted hook fell with it. The energized line produced a huge bolt of electricity, reaching temperatures up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and zapping the steel tower like lightning as it charred the pillar black. Droplets of molten metal sprayed into The wind slammed against the Harding-era transmission tower, ripping a heavy electrical line from its brittle iron hook. It was 6:15 A.M. The 143-pound, 115-kilovolt braided aluminum wire—known as a jumper cable—fell through the air. A piece of the rusted hook fell with it. The energized line produced a huge bolt of electricity, reaching temperatures up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and zapping the steel tower like lightning as it charred the pillar black. Droplets of molten metal sprayed into the dry grass. That’s all it took. ------------------------------------ …this was how the fire spread so quickly: It wasn’t a single unbroken front but a hail of embers. Welcome to the new normal. sign - may you find paradise to be all its name implies - Image from KQED In November 2018, one hundred fifty miles north of San Francisco, the town of Paradise became the epicenter of what would be called The Camp Fire. It was the most destructive wildfire in California history. (The Dixie Fire that was raging at the time this review was prepared had not yet been controlled, so we do not yet know if it was even worse.) The Camp Fire does not even make the top ten list for the most acres destroyed by fire. That dubious honor goes to the August Complex fire of 2020, which burned over a million acres. The Camp Fire destroyed only 153,336 acres. But in other metrics it leads the way. Almost 19,000 structures were destroyed. The property loss was over $10 billion, (I have seen a report indicating that the cost exceeded $16 billion) about 10 percent larger than the 2017 Tubbs Fire, the former title holder. Most importantly, the official death toll from the Camp Fire was 85, an undercount of at least fifty according to the author’s tally of wrongful death suits lodged against PG&E, and her knowledge of deaths that did not fit into the very restrictive official definition. In looking at lists of the worst wildfires ever, concentrated as it is in the last few years, and with no likelihood that conditions will improve any time soon, it is a certainty that we, as a planet, the USA as a nation, and California in particular are living in a powderkeg and giving off sparks. Lizzy Johnson - Image from her site Johnson had been the fire reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the Camp Fire. (She has since moved on to the Washington Post) …this book is the product of more than five hundred interviews and nearly five years of full-time wildfire coverage. I even enrolled in a professional firefighting academy to better understand fire…It’s the product of coming to love a community that I embedded in: spending hours strolling across Paradise on my evening walks, buying ice cream sandwiches from the Holiday Market, eating more containers of green curry from Sophia’s Thai than I can count. The people whose lives I’ve chronicled in this book offered me unfettered access to their day-to-day lives without any expectations. They were not compensated for their time. - from Acknowledgments Burned vehicles during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Thursday, November 8, 2018 - image and text from SF Gate She even stayed with some of them. Johnson provides a wealth of detail. Not just two dimensional, or even three, but adding time into the mix to make for four. We get personal histories of people who were impacted by the fire, specifically in how they came to be there, and the history of the place from before the 1850 goldrush. This includes some history on the Native American Konkow tribe, with lore that addresses the challenges of coping with wildfire. She also looks at PG&E’s history of poor line maintenance, and the legal system’s history of failing to make them pay for their malfeasance or force them to adequately change their ways. Timeline – from the National Institute for Standards and Technology As for the structure of the book, I was reminded of The Longest Day, an epic 1962 war film that told, from a variety of perspectives, the story of the D-Day invasion of Europe in World War II. By knitting the diverse experiences together we get a sense of the overall event that would have been impossible in a more linear Boy-Meets-War type narrative. Paradise is a lot like that. We jump from the desperate bus-driver to the town manager to the maintenance man at the hospital to the pilot trying to dump flame retardant on the blaze, to the people on their off-road vehicles trying to find a location in which to shelter that had no combustible foliage, to the police chief, to the town manager, to the fire chiefs, to a woman who gave birth by Caesarian section that very day, and winds up being driven around by a stranger, trying to find her husband and a way out. and on. But somehow, the book never felt disjointed. Each person is given sufficient detail. We get to know them some, not too much, but enough to care. And we track their progress over that terrible day. I found it helpful while reading to have a browser tab open to a Google map of Paradise so I could follow each person on their fraught peregrinations. Johnson tracks the progress of the fire, from its ignition by the downed power line at 6:15 am on November 8, 2018, step by step. She tracks her residents through that day to where they are now, in August 2020. Fire tornado explainer - from the San Francisco Chronicle Johnson’s focus is on the personal. There is a reason for that. Early in her fire reporting, Johnson noticed that many fire stories—hers included—sounded similar; they often relied on the same beats, the same kinds of quotes, the same tropes. (A woman who left her wedding ring at home, for example, only for it to burn.) Johnson began to wonder if disaster fatigue happened when stories felt predictable. So she changed her approach to make the fire secondary, a “supporting character” in a more surprising and nuanced human story—and readers paid attention. Too often, she said, coverage tries to hit people over the head with a “climate change caused this” moral. “I’m now thinking more like, What does climate change feel like? If we changed the model, maybe people will listen more, and we can do more work with our storytelling. - from the Columbia Journalism Review interviewOne can only hope. The Camp Fire burns in the hills on November 10, 2018 near Big Bend, California. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise - image from SF Gate Simple human error accounts for some of the carnage. A public emergency warning system failed to reach half the residents because it had never been tested locally, and a systems flaw had not been detected. And our old bugaboo of inadequate communication and coordination among the responsible emergency authorities was not helpful. In the larger context, it is the myopic focus on immediate financial or political motives that has created much of this problem. For example, a Code Red system for alerting people of an emergency is privately owned, requiring people to subscribe. Only 11% did. from the Camp Fire - image from Cal Fire Maybe, after a four-lane road had been paved on the western edge of town several years before, cutting two lanes from the Skyway, providing extra parking for downtown businesses and removing the “expressway” feel of the road, ignoring pleas that this would be a deadly choice the next time a major fire hit, might, just might have been an incredibly bad, short-term decision with deadly long-term consequences. Someone in Paradise should be nominated for the Larry Vaughn Award for exceptional short-sightedness in the face of mortal peril. NASA shot of the fire The experience of reading this book was unlike that of anything else I have read in recent memory. The closest I can think of is Five Days at Memorial, several years back. How quickly, how easily our civilization can be overwhelmed, our safety completely compromised. Evacuating the hospital - image from The Daily Mail There were moments when I had to step away from reading, and just breathe, because the specifics of the fire were so upsetting. The stories Johnson tells are heart-wrenching, and often horrifying. It was like reading a real-life end-times, zombie-apocalypse novel. Someone hiding from the flames under a vehicle, pokes a hole in a tire just to get breathable air. After a victim of the fire is lifted from a flat surface, a layer of molten flesh remained. Just writing these words brings a sob. A Cal Fire pilot maneuver's an S2-T tanker to make a drop on the Walbridge fire at sunset near Healdsburg, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. - Image from the Press Democrat – photo credit Kent Porter – What it would have looked like had planes not been called back due to 70 mph winds and horrific down and updrafts Another part of the experience was learning new things, many of them dire, like the fact that trees were becoming so hot that the water and sap inside them heated to a point where they basically exploded. Things like the temperature becoming so high that metallic elements in the ground solidified into shards, and propane tanks became missiles and major sources of shrapnel. AT&T’s landlines melted. Internet service cut out as communications hardware on towers was destroyed. Things like the underground pipes carrying the town’s water becoming so hot that they melted, leaching carcinogenic materials into the water supply. (Repair/replace cost $50 million.) Things like the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from this one fire matched the output of the entire state’s factories and traffic in a week. Things like the incineration of so many structures created clouds of toxic sub-2.5 micron particles that lodge in the lungs of any breathing thing. There are plenty more things to be learned here, not all of them quite so extreme. But all of them worth knowing. She looks at the topography, and how that impacts wind currents, the changes in the local flora, the psychology of disaster response. The scientific explanations in the book were clear and informative Firefighter Jose Corona monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire burns - image and text from SF Gate It is easy to engage with the folks Johnson profiles, and root for them to survive. It helps that we can presume that all of the primary actors here make it out, else Johnson would not have been able to interview them, and we would not be reading their stories. But she succeeds in showing us what global warming means on the ground, to actual human beings, over 125 of whom are no longer with us, and many of whom have been scarred, physically and or emotionally, for life. shot from the fire – image from The Daily Mail There is very little mention of political party here. Local representation is heavily Republican. Everyone burns at the same temperature, but maybe voting for the party of climate change denial while living in a tinderbox might be seen as somehow ironic, if not feckless and arrogant. Trump popped by for a photo op and a chance to blame Californians for the fire, claiming that they should have been raking out the leaves in the woods. (The largest wildland property owner in California is the federal government, by the way. The state is in charge of about 3% of it.) The town voted for him in 2016, but by 2020 had seen quite enough orange light and switched, at least at the presidential level. Sheriffs yell to drivers to evacuate the area off of Pentz Road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 - image and text from SF Gate As this book and countless other reports make clear, we have a wildfire problem. Serious research into the causes, both global and local, has been done. More is ongoing, and there will, for sure, be more ahead. Even more than has already been done, public policies will have to be crafted to encourage, and where possible, mandate best practices, and enforce restrictions on private and public use of land in the wildland-urban interface. There are many facets to this, from power line protection, roadway construction, widening, or even closing, development requirements, such as mandating fire-safe materials for new construction, and supporting retrofitting older buildings. Communications among first responders has been improved, but much remains to be done. Total deregulation, allowing property owners to do whatever they want with their property can very concretely endanger the property and lives of all those around them. We have an obligation to each other to not be totally indifferent about the safety of our communities and neighbors. Common sense regulation should be implemented. In the wider view, gaining new knowledge of areas that are likely to burn should inform policy on where new development is allowed at all, where further development should be halted, and where rebuilding burned areas is ill-advised. ( Between 1970 and 1999, 94 percent of the roughly three thousand houses destroyed by wildfires in California had been rebuilt in the same spot—and often burned down a second or third time.) Your freedom to do whatever the frack you want ends where my charred skin begins. Insurance companies, with the most to lose financially, have already made getting fire insurance tougher, if it is available at all, in fire-prone communities. Cars escape the Camp Fire as they drive south on Pentz Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 - image and text from SF Gate I love this book. It is among my favorites for the year. I have much praise to offer and very few gripes. While I understand that the author’s intent was to make global warming on-the-street real, and appreciate that she has succeeded in doing just that, I would have liked a bit more on the long-term medical impact of wildfires, and the politics of the local public officials, particularly their views on global warming. A bulldozer dislodged abandoned vehicles from a blocked roadway after the fire. The scene suggests that a burnover, a dangerous event where fire cuts evacuees off from escape routes, took place. There were at least 19 over the course of the fire. – image and text from National Institute for Standards and Technology ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I have moved it to the comments section directly below. As of August 2021, GR will no longer allow external links in comments, so, if you want to see the entire review in one place please head on over to my site, Coot's Reviews.

  3. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    DNF @ 20% I love an occasional non-fiction book and was excited to read this one in the hopes of ending a slump. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. At over 400 pages there was a lot of filler and I could have learned all I needed to know from an online article. I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Lizzie Johnson’s book ‘Paradise’ was nails on a chalkboard irritating ….. with slow rollouts of the ‘heart-of-the-matter’-burning devastation of the horrific camp fire in the town of Paradise… where every inch burned to the ground….. people - families - children burned to death …. Several of my personal friends lost their homes- The MOST PAINFULLY EXPERIENCED FIRE in California. I still live with grief. I didn’t want to read this book -it was much to close to home — much too personal for me. I was o Lizzie Johnson’s book ‘Paradise’ was nails on a chalkboard irritating ….. with slow rollouts of the ‘heart-of-the-matter’-burning devastation of the horrific camp fire in the town of Paradise… where every inch burned to the ground….. people - families - children burned to death …. Several of my personal friends lost their homes- The MOST PAINFULLY EXPERIENCED FIRE in California. I still live with grief. I didn’t want to read this book -it was much to close to home — much too personal for me. I was offered to read this book a year ago for-a-review- I said no. I couldn’t do it objectively- no matter what was written. Not ‘for’ a review. I just couldn’t!!! Many of us- locals-and people though-out the world can’t forget learning of the horrors of people in their cars trying to escape the fire only to be burned alive. Soooo many emotions — anger - sadness - real grief!! Lizzie Johnson -bless her compassion-her diligent commitment as a journalist- her heart was in the right place — but she spent so much time on drawn-out-stories about residents height, weight, hair and eye color, foods cooked, hobbies, family history, marriages, divorces, dating, jobs, income and financial situations, education, personal mental health, and addictions. I’m the meantime we were ‘on hold’ for the nitty-gritty important facts. Humanizing a story gives a book soul - but in ‘Paradise’ it became nauseating-peppy. I was impatient with the glossy biographies. Personally…. I can’t say the ‘word’ PARADISE easy any longer. Many people who visit our house—[our retreat-yard] - call it ‘a heaven-of-paradise….(sweet and kind)….but…. I replace the word with OASIS. I pledged long ago to myself, to no longer use the word - paradise - to describe peaceful beauty. I save the word -only to honor the town we loved and the people who died in it. The tragic loss - was bigger than tragic- it was a nightmare!!! PG&E will never live their crime down — many of us will never forget — they ‘are’ paying their debt and things have been corrected. (so at least there is that). Thanks go to Lizzie Johnson for taking on this project of reporting. I know she gave her all- gave with her heart— but this book was a little too ‘safe & careful’ — sweetly syrupy for me. I cried only during the acknowledgements —I was moved by all the people mentioned who got their hands dirty - trying to save lives— and sad for those who live with un-talk-able memories. Thankfully I had a phone call with a blessed friend, instantly as I finished the last couple of sentences — or I might have fallen into a longer dark spell (again over this fire)… This was the book I wasn’t going to read! This was also the book I wasn’t going to mention or review. Paul encouraged me this evening (before falling asleep)… to write ‘something’ for myself… And this is it. I’m typing this entry from our bed - under my covers - onto this iPhone — This book is not completion — it’s a reminder. I do thank Lizzie Johnson for her work… her goodness! And, although this book is not without flaws - our author deserves recognition for all the blood, sweat, research, tears, interviews, hours, weeks, months, and longer, that she gave. P.S. Thank you Cheri (you know why) 3.8 rating

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I received a gifted copy from Goodreads and Crown Publishing. I’m sure we all remember California’s Camp Fire of 2018, the devastating wildfire. In Paradise, author Lizzie Johnson transports the reader to the time and place it all starts for the local residents. An acre gone in one second flat. Johnson works for the San Francisco Chronicle as a reporter, and she is there in Paradise as the tragedy unfolds. Her account is minute-by-minute, and the tension is palpable. Johnson doesn’t just report, t I received a gifted copy from Goodreads and Crown Publishing. I’m sure we all remember California’s Camp Fire of 2018, the devastating wildfire. In Paradise, author Lizzie Johnson transports the reader to the time and place it all starts for the local residents. An acre gone in one second flat. Johnson works for the San Francisco Chronicle as a reporter, and she is there in Paradise as the tragedy unfolds. Her account is minute-by-minute, and the tension is palpable. Johnson doesn’t just report, though. She humanizes the victims and inserts empathy when putting names and lives to the faces of those impacted. She also examines the causes including climate change and a lacking alert system (why can’t this be better in this modern age?). Paradise surprised me in the best of ways. It begs important discussions and shines an important light on a heartbreaking tragedy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    This is a comprehensive account of the Camp Fire and how it affected the town of Paradise, California. Lizzie Johnson does an exceptional job taking us through the events of that unforgettable tragedy. It is clear that she spent extensive amounts of time in Paradise getting to know the people whose lives were irrevocably changed on November 8, 2018. There is a rush to blame climate change for the fires, but the book also brings some other issues to light as well. What about the negligence of PGE This is a comprehensive account of the Camp Fire and how it affected the town of Paradise, California. Lizzie Johnson does an exceptional job taking us through the events of that unforgettable tragedy. It is clear that she spent extensive amounts of time in Paradise getting to know the people whose lives were irrevocably changed on November 8, 2018. There is a rush to blame climate change for the fires, but the book also brings some other issues to light as well. What about the negligence of PGE in not maintaining their equipment? The line hook that came loose early that day had been overlooked as a part of mandatory maintenance for decades. What about the lack of stewardship of our forested areas. Controlled burns are necessary to nurture and revive the plants and trees that inhabit those spaces. What about the spaces we are choosing to build our homes? Just because we want to live there, should we? Finally, are the wildfires themselves causing climate change to accelerate? Thank you to Crown Publishing for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    I know this was a well written book. However, I jut could not get past the fact that it was just too long winded making it hard for me to sustain interest. Perhaps one day I will return to it and finish the last 50%.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    Loved the first 50%. Made me sick to my stomach. This book is haunting and a reminder of all that’s at stake. The second half slowed down considerably because the fire passes through and the aftermath is much slower. Overall a good book, if not completely terrifying.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Lizzie Johnson, a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, covered the impact of climate change on California. Part of that impact is reflected in the Chronicle’s coverage of the North Bay Wildfires of 2017 and the Camp Fire of 2018. Johnson led that team. The Camp Fire is probably equally well known by the name of the town it wiped off the earth: Paradise. As Johnson provides through first person on site descriptions, Paradise literally did become hell on November 8, 2019. This book begins o Lizzie Johnson, a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, covered the impact of climate change on California. Part of that impact is reflected in the Chronicle’s coverage of the North Bay Wildfires of 2017 and the Camp Fire of 2018. Johnson led that team. The Camp Fire is probably equally well known by the name of the town it wiped off the earth: Paradise. As Johnson provides through first person on site descriptions, Paradise literally did become hell on November 8, 2019. This book begins on a relatively quiet note, describing the routine daily existence of firefighters working for Cal Fire and a local leader. I initially wondered if this book was for me. Where was the “event” I had come to this book for, why so slow and calm. Now it comes to me: this must be the reality of living in wildfire country. Things can be routine and fine until they definitely are not. The description of the beginning of the fire is fascinating for all the factors that came together to culminate in the horror that resulted in Paradise. The different stages are outlined clearly in the text. They range from the over-arching climate change, to a power company that has long neglected infrastructure upkeep, strange wind behavior, untested and uncoordinated and ultimately ineffective evacuation plans, even lack of community planning in the hills and mountains that were first settled long ago and grew with little oversight. I’m being simplistic here. The book is fascinating on each point, especially as individuals in places of authority begin to realize that something beyond their experience is underway. I do recommend this book for anyone interested in the real world implications of climate change. It’s similar to a true crime novel in its intensity. And once the intensity begins, it continues for a long time. There is a lengthy section with footnotes at the end of my copy. Johnson also discusses some of her work with citizens and officials of Paradise during and after the fire. I am rating this book 5* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    Lizzie Johnson has painstakingly documented the unfolding ferocious Camp Fire tragedy of Butte, Montana, the most aggressive wildfire in California History. An incredibly heartbreaking and devastating story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lilisa

    Wildfires are devastating - destroying lives, property, and communities. Documenting the harrowing and tragic experience that people lived and continue to live in a wildfire’s aftermath is a fine balance requiring skilled research, sensitivity while interviewing people to capture their mental and emotional anguish, and then combining both for the reader in a taut, fast-paced, and very real "in the present” moment is an extremely tall feat. Journalist Lizzie Johnson does all of this and much more Wildfires are devastating - destroying lives, property, and communities. Documenting the harrowing and tragic experience that people lived and continue to live in a wildfire’s aftermath is a fine balance requiring skilled research, sensitivity while interviewing people to capture their mental and emotional anguish, and then combining both for the reader in a taut, fast-paced, and very real "in the present” moment is an extremely tall feat. Journalist Lizzie Johnson does all of this and much more in her debut book, which is in the order of an Erik Larson-level book - and yes, I read the book because Erik Larson referred to it as “A reportorial tour de force” - high praise indeed. The Nov. 8, 2018 California Camp Fire killed 85 people (with one of the deaths attributed to being a suicide as a result of the fire) and decimated the lives of the Paradise community and surrounding area in one of the deadliest wildfires in recent times. The author brought each person to life on the pages of the book, we get to know each person, the details of what they were doing before, during, and after the fires - their mental and emotional states and their frantic drive, ride, or walk to safety or not…With superb writing that conveyed the urgency, turmoil, and frantic nature of the unfolding tragedy, I had to put the book down often as the real-life experience seemed to jump out of the pages at me - crowding me in as I seemed to be living the wildfire experience through the characters in the moment. As a result, it took much longer to finish the book than I anticipated - not because it wasn’t amazingly well-written nor the topic riveting, but because it was. The Paradise wildfire was a result of several factors, not just one, and the book provides great insight into how and why wildfires occur. What comes through the book is the trust the community of Paradise have in the author to have shared their unfiltered thoughts, feelings, and lives to make this account of California’s Camp Fire immediate and real for us readers - thanks to all those who shared their stories with Lizzie Johnson - this is a must-read book and I highly recommend it. Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this early copy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Fire season was very real for us last year. And the year before, and before. Northern CA has endured more than its share of fire damage, and the worst of all might be the November 2018 “Camp Fire” that destroyed the beautiful town of Paradise. Lizzie Johnson, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the minute-by-minute story of this disaster, having done years of investigating, including reviewing public records (including 911 calls and grand jury testimony) and interviews with locals, Fire season was very real for us last year. And the year before, and before. Northern CA has endured more than its share of fire damage, and the worst of all might be the November 2018 “Camp Fire” that destroyed the beautiful town of Paradise. Lizzie Johnson, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the minute-by-minute story of this disaster, having done years of investigating, including reviewing public records (including 911 calls and grand jury testimony) and interviews with locals, both officials and “just folks.” The fire was FAST. Less than two hours after it started, the town was engulfed in flames. And for anyone who has visited the area, you KNOW there are limited roads in and out of this beautiful area. Her reporting follows “…residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses.” It’s heartbreaking. But it is also maddening, as Johnson explores the causes of the fire, including climate change, a seriously lacking alert system, and the criminal neglect of essential infrastructure by PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric, whose transmission lines have been widely blamed for causing the blaze). I’m giving this five stars because it is incredibly well researched and reported, and it’s a story that needs to be told — and read. I admit I couldn’t read every word, because it was just too painful to be reminded what friends and relatives have dealt with recently and will likely face again…unless of course we follow the advice of the deranged former president who suggests raking the forest floors. Yikes. Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for a copy of Paradise in exchange for this honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book is riveting, visceral and terrifying. It's an exhaustive account of the Camp Fire that destroyed the California town of Paradise in 2018 and killed 85 people—with more people dying later of related trauma. I read it in a 24-hour period because I had to know what happened next, what happened to each "character." I don't say that to minimize this very real story, but to point out that author Lizzie Johnson's storytelling makes me very concerned for each of the people we get to know and d This book is riveting, visceral and terrifying. It's an exhaustive account of the Camp Fire that destroyed the California town of Paradise in 2018 and killed 85 people—with more people dying later of related trauma. I read it in a 24-hour period because I had to know what happened next, what happened to each "character." I don't say that to minimize this very real story, but to point out that author Lizzie Johnson's storytelling makes me very concerned for each of the people we get to know and deeply caring to know what will happen to them. As a former newspaper reporter, I was in awe of the exhaustive reporting Johnson had to have done. She starts off the book by describing a multitude of people who will be affected that day. You get to know them through even the most minute detail of their life, which would have required Johnson to ask endless questions about their lives pre-Camp Fire. (She is only in her mid-20s!) The book also explains to someone like me (from the Midwest, living on the East Coast), who knows little about fires, how this fire started but also how California got to this place (climate change, of course, but other failures too). There is some explanation of the fault of this fire, and other fires, and the problems with the state electric company PG&E (same company that poisoned the groundwater that you learned about in the movie "Erin Brockovich"), but the heart of the story are the people—those who were trying to escape, those who stayed behind or got trapped behind, and the everyday people, local officials, health care workers, law enforcement and fire fighters who tried to save people.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ula Tardigrade

    A fine example of narrative nonfiction. You’ve probably heard about the devastating 2018 Camp Fire in California and the tragedy of a little town of Paradise. As I am interested in the wildfires, I have read a lot of articles about it, even watched a documentary. But there is no better way to tell such a story then through carefully reconstructed minute-to-minute doings of people who survived it. The author did her homework - she spent five years on the research and conducted more than five hundr A fine example of narrative nonfiction. You’ve probably heard about the devastating 2018 Camp Fire in California and the tragedy of a little town of Paradise. As I am interested in the wildfires, I have read a lot of articles about it, even watched a documentary. But there is no better way to tell such a story then through carefully reconstructed minute-to-minute doings of people who survived it. The author did her homework - she spent five years on the research and conducted more than five hundred interviews. The result is impressive, if sometimes a little overwhelming. In addition to this personal recollections, a reader will find also interesting background, spanning from the history of the settlement in California to the various methods of fighting the wildfires. It is a perfect book for another summer that is too hot to bear, with natural disasters nonstop in the news. Maybe such vivid stories will make more people aware of the danger that we are all in because of the climate crisis. Thanks to the publisher, Crown, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    A great depiction of the devastating California camp fire. The author did a great job describing the terror as residents tried to escape to safety.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received an unpublished ARC of this book from Netgalley, Lizzie Johnson, and Crown Publishing. I have read Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I want everyone to read this book. Paradise is a close and personal look at the trials and tribulations of the families impacted by the northern California Camp Creek Fire which sparked to life on November 8, 2018. We are involved with their lives, th I received an unpublished ARC of this book from Netgalley, Lizzie Johnson, and Crown Publishing. I have read Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I want everyone to read this book. Paradise is a close and personal look at the trials and tribulations of the families impacted by the northern California Camp Creek Fire which sparked to life on November 8, 2018. We are involved with their lives, their dreams, their children, their jobs. We have timely input from the legends of the Konkow tribe native to that area. We get to know and appreciate the fire squads who do so much to keep us all protected. And we see the efforts involved in tackling a blaze gone rampant, just four hours from that first spark the Camp fire wiped out the town of Paradise. 85 dead, 52,000 people displaced. And we see the cost of our way of life, and the absence of shame after the acts of PG&E that set into play this horror. Another book we all need to read, absorb. And learn from. I don't know if Ms. Johnson's notes will be included in the published copy of this history of the Camp Fire, but they are extensive and well worth the read. pub date August 17. 2021 Crown Publishing Reviewed on August 17, 2021, at Goodreads, Netgalley, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay. AmazonSmile would not let me review this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Smith

    Once again, western states are preparing for a dry and possibly explosive fire year. I needed to read this book for its lessons learned by the town of Paradise and all the the west with fires a reality. I wanted to read this in-depth accounting of how terrified residents and first responders sought escape and rescue against enormous odds. I'm in awe of the resilience, courage and inner strength of the residents of Paradise and all who deal with the trauma and rebuilding of their lives and commun Once again, western states are preparing for a dry and possibly explosive fire year. I needed to read this book for its lessons learned by the town of Paradise and all the the west with fires a reality. I wanted to read this in-depth accounting of how terrified residents and first responders sought escape and rescue against enormous odds. I'm in awe of the resilience, courage and inner strength of the residents of Paradise and all who deal with the trauma and rebuilding of their lives and communities after huge fires. I've never considered wild fire a concern until these past five years. Last year's fires were too close for comfort. Now I plan and prepare all the time, watching with a wary eye, ready to go. Thanks to Lizzie Johnson for her superb deep reporting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine Merrill

    A must-read for Californians. An unflinching and emotionally moving account of what led to the Camp Fire and the lasting effect it had on the Paradise community--although it was tough to read at times, it was hard to put down. Lizzie Johnson is a talented reporter and she managed to make a recent-ish event read like (horrific) fiction. As a Chico State graduate who has nothing but the fondest memories of my four years in Butte County, the Camp Fire is never how I would have wanted (or expected) A must-read for Californians. An unflinching and emotionally moving account of what led to the Camp Fire and the lasting effect it had on the Paradise community--although it was tough to read at times, it was hard to put down. Lizzie Johnson is a talented reporter and she managed to make a recent-ish event read like (horrific) fiction. As a Chico State graduate who has nothing but the fondest memories of my four years in Butte County, the Camp Fire is never how I would have wanted (or expected) to see Chico/Paradise and Butte County on the national stage. But as a born-and-raised-and-back-again Californian, I'm also shocked and horrified at the corporate greed and negligence shown by PG&E and concerned about the lack of consensus and action made on combating climate change in a state that is dramatically changing. Wildfire season should not be a thing, and I'm hopeful that more people reading books like Paradise will help us work more collaboratively and intentionally for a solution.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine (geraldinereads)

    This book is an in-depth account of the 2018 Camp Fire in a town in California called Paradise. Even if you've read or heard about this fire, I guarantee you will learn so much especially about the victims as it follows them very closely. It also ties in the history of wild fires and why PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) was at fault for this fire. This was horrifying and so sad to read, but I loved the way it was written. It flipped between different victim stories which made you want to know what w This book is an in-depth account of the 2018 Camp Fire in a town in California called Paradise. Even if you've read or heard about this fire, I guarantee you will learn so much especially about the victims as it follows them very closely. It also ties in the history of wild fires and why PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) was at fault for this fire. This was horrifying and so sad to read, but I loved the way it was written. It flipped between different victim stories which made you want to know what would happen next for every person's story. That definitely reeled me in, and I couldn't stop reading because that writing style made it read a lot like fiction. It really reminded me of Columbine by Dave Cullen (one of my favorite books btw) in that way since I couldn't put that book down either. Similar to Columbine, Lizzie Johnson really humanizes the victims by giving them their own detailed stories. I highly recommend reading this one!!! One of the best nonfiction books I've read this year. You'll definitely want to buy this one especially if you're a big fan of nonfiction! 4.5/5 stars. [This is a really heavy read and very graphic at times so keep that in mind when you pick this one up as it has triggers relating to death, fires, etc.] Thank you Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The first 20ish percent is backstory so it may feel a little slow at first but when the fire starts, it’s a nonstop whirlwind. I feel so bad for these families and can’t even imagine what they went through. It was extremely well written though and made me want to stay up late to read it. Highly recommend

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Well written and researched, this account of the Camp Fire was terrifying. Here in CO we also suffer from fire seasons and I have family who almost lost their home a couple years ago. Thankfully the fire was stopped short of their home - by one mile. The story of the people and town of Paradise was one of corporate greed, shoddy maintenance of power lines and poles, and the devastating effect this had. Not only homes and possessions were lost, but also 85 lives. It was a sobering read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    One Town’s Struggle to Survive and American Wildfire Paradis, California “Paradise” is a brutal account of the deadliest wildfire in California history. The author, an investigative reporter, narrates in detail what she has drawn out from firsthand accounts, reports from 911calls, residents, officials and fire department workers. November 2018,” Camp Fire” The fire was fast less than two hours after it started, Paradis was engulfed in flames. Balancing horror with compassion Ms. Johnson notes that One Town’s Struggle to Survive and American Wildfire Paradis, California “Paradise” is a brutal account of the deadliest wildfire in California history. The author, an investigative reporter, narrates in detail what she has drawn out from firsthand accounts, reports from 911calls, residents, officials and fire department workers. November 2018,” Camp Fire” The fire was fast less than two hours after it started, Paradis was engulfed in flames. Balancing horror with compassion Ms. Johnson notes that management’s practices had allowed the woods to become diseased and overgrown this with neglect on the part of Pacific Gas and Electric Company were the key factor for this disaster. The details are horrifying and overwhelming. The account of young mother fleeing with her newborn, a school full of children in search of an escape route, medics, nurses as well as patients trapped. Heartbreaking: The list of victims and where they were found. The fire nearly leveled the town of Paradise and the surrounding areas...This is a gripping, edge of your seat read. The investigation: brought PG&E to their knees The verdict: “Guilty: PG&E enters pleas for 85 Camp Fire felonies It took time and heart to gives us this well-researched and reported account. Kudos to you Ms. Johnson you definitely painted a horrific picture of a wild fire out of control.... I had the opportunity to receive this book from Crown Publishing via Netgalley for my thoughts: this is the way I see it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Pilz

    I just reviewed Paradise by Lizzie Johnson. #Paradise #NetGalley I moved into the house I currently live in spring of 2013. The following fall, the Cedar fire, at the time the biggest ever in California, threatened our neighborhood. We evacuated to the next town east of us, some 90 miles away as the fire was encroaching on our property. This book is about the Camp fire, which is still topping the list of the deadliest and most destructive fires in California history. In a very somber at times chil I just reviewed Paradise by Lizzie Johnson. #Paradise #NetGalley I moved into the house I currently live in spring of 2013. The following fall, the Cedar fire, at the time the biggest ever in California, threatened our neighborhood. We evacuated to the next town east of us, some 90 miles away as the fire was encroaching on our property. This book is about the Camp fire, which is still topping the list of the deadliest and most destructive fires in California history. In a very somber at times chilly writing style, Lizzie Johnson makes you feel what it means to live with the danger of wildfires, what the causes are, and the challenges we all face to move on after the devastation hits us. This book may be too close to home to some of us. The paradise fire was the one which changed my attitude towards fire mitigation. The frequency and the size of inclement weather is increasing all over the country. Here in California, we had the largest 7 wildfires ever in the past 5 years, the Cedar Fire barely making the top 10 today. Living with the danger shows in our community as well, just this week I saw 5 tree trimming services busy with fire mitigation at my neighbors houses. If you are not taking fire mitigation serious yet, this book may make you. Lizzie Johnson does an excellent job taking you through the motions. There are private citizens, first responders, healthcare providers, teachers and politicians. She tells the story from all their angles in a way that makes you live through the drama they have been facing, the losses their had and closes the story with how people moved on after facing so much devastation. After returning from our evacuation in El Centro, we had to take the backroads back home as the major arteries in San Diego were still closed. As we were approaching our house, we saw couples crying in each others arms in front of the smoldering ruins of their former residences with less than a mile to go home. Our home was still there and outside of some burn scars on fence poles and charred brushland, there was not damage to my property. Last year, I bought a fire fighting pump to use with my swimming pool. This year, I installed ember proof vents in my house and on Monday, a tree service will take down some dozen pine trees, reduce some honey suckle and take the skirts of the palm trees next to my house. What are you doing to mitigate your risks of climate change?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judith Babarsky

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it stands on a par with the non-fiction written by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) and Erik Larson (Devil & the White City, In the Garden of the Beast, etc.)--yes, it's that good! The author, Lizzie Johnson, is in her late twenties, yet her writing seems that of someone more experienced than one would think possible from someone so young. An investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, she does a beautiful job of combining the history of wild fi I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it stands on a par with the non-fiction written by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) and Erik Larson (Devil & the White City, In the Garden of the Beast, etc.)--yes, it's that good! The author, Lizzie Johnson, is in her late twenties, yet her writing seems that of someone more experienced than one would think possible from someone so young. An investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, she does a beautiful job of combining the history of wild fires in California (drought, global warming, etc.), governmental responses to the increase in fires and regulation (or not) of PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) with the real-life tragedies that befell so many individuals on the day of the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, CA. Johnson's writing style is clear and engaging as well as suspenseful--from her descriptions of the earliest minutes of the fire all the way through to the aftermath. She avoids a simple linear story telling style, leaving her readers at the end of a chapter, wondering what will happen to the individual whose story she is telling in that particular chapter--picking up in the next chapter with a story that had begun maybe 2 or 3 chapters previously. It drives the reader to keep reading and makes the book so difficult to put down! There is also a third stream of the story that tells the story of an Indian tribal story passed through the ages of a fire god and the tribal people--a fable that she first heard while reporting on the Camp Fire. The book is tightly written, well edited with no extraneous information. Thanks Net Galley for the opportunity to read a pre-publication copy of this book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sally Mander

    PARADISE by Lizzie Johnson This is the history of the town of Paradise, California, and some of the histories of its early settlers and modern inhabitants. As we all know, the town of Paradise was devastated by the CAMP FIRE in 2018. Paradise was a thriving town before the fire and now it is a struggling area. The book tells more personable details about some of the people who lived there and how the fire and evacuation impacted their lives. It is disheartening because the fire was found to be cau PARADISE by Lizzie Johnson This is the history of the town of Paradise, California, and some of the histories of its early settlers and modern inhabitants. As we all know, the town of Paradise was devastated by the CAMP FIRE in 2018. Paradise was a thriving town before the fire and now it is a struggling area. The book tells more personable details about some of the people who lived there and how the fire and evacuation impacted their lives. It is disheartening because the fire was found to be caused by a faulty PG&E line. This could have been prevented. 85 people lost their lives in this fire. I wanted to read the story of Paradise since I have family that is from there and other family members that live in the same county of Butte. I thought it good to be educated on the strife and struggles of the residents that had endured the heartbreak of the CAMP FIRE. Many thanks to #netgalley for the complimentary copy of #paradise I was under no obligation to post a review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Wow... this is my book of the year! I haven't read a disaster book so emotionally gripping since Five Days at Memorial. This is better. The first-hand stories told of people who tried to stay alive but assumed they would die - the stories of schoolkids stuck on a bus that could have caught fire at any minute - the healthcare workers trying to save those stuck in a hospital - the firefighters trying their best to contain something uncontainable... It's hard here to express how reading this made me Wow... this is my book of the year! I haven't read a disaster book so emotionally gripping since Five Days at Memorial. This is better. The first-hand stories told of people who tried to stay alive but assumed they would die - the stories of schoolkids stuck on a bus that could have caught fire at any minute - the healthcare workers trying to save those stuck in a hospital - the firefighters trying their best to contain something uncontainable... It's hard here to express how reading this made me feel. Just wait until you find out how much it would have cost PG&E to proactively replace the very small piece of equipment that started the fire - but they skipped inspecting to save a few dollars. It's a must read for anyone interested in disasters, wildfires, and the issues these events cause to our society...

  27. 4 out of 5

    April Rasdal

    Wow....this book really puts into perspective how devastating the fires have been to families and communities in the Western US. I enjoyed that the author told stories of specific people and families, and tied them all together with the timeline and landmarks throughout Paradise and the surrounding area. It’s clear that the author did extensive research to make sure the facts and the timeline were exactly right. We often hear about the after effects of disasters, but this book focuses on the peop Wow....this book really puts into perspective how devastating the fires have been to families and communities in the Western US. I enjoyed that the author told stories of specific people and families, and tied them all together with the timeline and landmarks throughout Paradise and the surrounding area. It’s clear that the author did extensive research to make sure the facts and the timeline were exactly right. We often hear about the after effects of disasters, but this book focuses on the people and events while it is actually happening. Whether you live in an area susceptible to wildfire risk or not, this is definitely worth a read. Thank you to Lizzie Johnson and Crown Publishing for the advanced copy of this book. Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire will be available August 17, 2021.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    This is the best book I've read this year, full stop. I've never lived in a fire-prone area, and this book offers quite the education while weaving in the personal narratives of those affected. It also provides a very wide scope of the massive impact a disaster like this can have on a town, long after the news cameras move on. I walk away from this book with a genuine respect for wildfires. Fair warning, though: this book is not for the faint of heart. Ms. Johnson doesn't hold back at all in desc This is the best book I've read this year, full stop. I've never lived in a fire-prone area, and this book offers quite the education while weaving in the personal narratives of those affected. It also provides a very wide scope of the massive impact a disaster like this can have on a town, long after the news cameras move on. I walk away from this book with a genuine respect for wildfires. Fair warning, though: this book is not for the faint of heart. Ms. Johnson doesn't hold back at all in describing some of the graphic injuries and horrific deaths that victims endured. I'd say that this adds value to the story - again, I'm fairly ignorant to the concept of an uncontrolled wildfire in a populated area, so this practice certainly painted a picture for me - but I'd be remiss if I didn't note it. I'll be thinking about this one for a long, long time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharyn Berg

    Can you really say you enjoyed a tragedy about the loss of human life, homes, pets, and all worldly possessions? Perhaps that is not the right term, however this book is certainly a great read and eye opener, for those of us who do not live in California, about what destruction a wildfire can actually cause. As often happens, tragedy can bring out the best in us and this tale shows the bravery of the firefighters, the kindness of strangers, and the resilience of those living in Paradise as they Can you really say you enjoyed a tragedy about the loss of human life, homes, pets, and all worldly possessions? Perhaps that is not the right term, however this book is certainly a great read and eye opener, for those of us who do not live in California, about what destruction a wildfire can actually cause. As often happens, tragedy can bring out the best in us and this tale shows the bravery of the firefighters, the kindness of strangers, and the resilience of those living in Paradise as they struggle to survive the unimaginable. This book is a worthy read and I would highly recommend it to everyone, especially those who appreciate current non-fiction. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance read copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    A gripping, edge of your seat read. Fire is so deadly, even on a small scale. But, on a large scale, it's downright terrifying. Here, the author has done a fantastic job of reporting the fire that devastated Paradise, California and described in detail, the terror and anxiety that the residents had trying to escape to safety. This is narrative non-fiction at its best. If you enjoy Patrick Radden Keefe's reporting, this is the book for you. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are A gripping, edge of your seat read. Fire is so deadly, even on a small scale. But, on a large scale, it's downright terrifying. Here, the author has done a fantastic job of reporting the fire that devastated Paradise, California and described in detail, the terror and anxiety that the residents had trying to escape to safety. This is narrative non-fiction at its best. If you enjoy Patrick Radden Keefe's reporting, this is the book for you. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

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