29 Jan 2008, 11:29pm
People and Fire
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Angora: South Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff, Jonah M. Kessel visual director, Jeff Munson editor, Gail Powell-Acosta publisher. Angora: South Lake Tahoe - Disaster. Survival. Restoration. 2007. Pediment Publishing.

On June 24th 2007 the Angora Fire raged out of the Eldorado National Forest and into the Meyers subdivision of South Lake Tahoe. When the fire was finally controlled three days later, 254 homes had been burned in the largest and most destructive fire in Lake Tahoe history.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune and sister papers in the Sierra Media Group found themselves at the center of a national story. ‘Round the clock news and pictures were in demand. In the aftermath, they realized that no one was better equipped to tell the whole story, and so produced this combination of reportage and photography.

The reports are compelling tales of private terror, loss, and grief, but also of courage, indomitable spirit, and the will to rebuild with strong community support.

The photography is even more compelling. One picture shows a swing set, the plastic seats melted in the fire. Another shows a statue of St. Francis, the patron saint of wildlife, against a backdrop of charred rubble and a destroyed forest. Aerial shots are excellent.

Angora is an important record of disaster and response, of heartbreak and renewed resolve. Angora is the hands-on story, the insider’s viewpoint. It springs from the people most affected, and is a testimony of residents and neighbors. That makes it different than your average fire chronicle, and special.

There is a good chance that Angora will never appear in your library. A limited number of copies are available from the Tahoe Daily Tribune [here]. Proceeds from the sale of the book are dedicated to helping Angora Fire victims.

29 Jan 2008, 7:01pm
People and Fire
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The Monster Reared His Ugly Head

Paxon, Jim. The Monster Reared His Ugly Head: The Story of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire and Fire As a Tool of Nature. 2007. Cedar Hill Publishing [here]

Short review by Mike Dubrasich, with Excerpts

Jim “the fire guy” Paxon was the Information Officer on the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. In 2002 that fire consumed 470, 000 acres and was largest and most expensive fire in the recorded history of Arizona.

In The Monster Reared His Ugly Head Paxon recounts the day by story of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire with the polished prose of a pro IO, but in very unbureaucratic personal terms. He begins the story with a description of the forest and his personal experience, knowledge, and relationship to it.

This sets the appropriate stage, because the fire was personal to a great many people. What burned down was not wildlands but homelands.

Paxon tells of the Ancient Ones and their fires. The early inhabitants of the Mongollan Rim were agriculturalists and apartment dwellers, builders of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. The Apaches came later to the White Mountains, but Like the Ancient Ones, the Apaches wielded anthropogenic fire, regular seasonal fires that encouraged nuts, berries, forage for game, and safety from catastrophic fires.

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