When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June of 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the twenty men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action.
An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. The Hotshots were loyal to one another and dedicated to the tough job they had. There's Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn’t afraid to say “I love you” to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his 20s who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy.
Impeccably researched, drawing upon more than a hundred hours of interviews with the firefighters’ families, colleagues, state and federal officials, and fire historians and researchers, New York Times Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos has written a riveting, pulse-pounding narrative of an unthinkable disaster, a remarkable group of men and the raging wildfires that threaten our country’s treasured wild lands.
Fernanda Santos covers Arizona and New Mexico as the Phoenix bureau chief for The New York Times. She was previously based in New York, where she covered the New York City public school system; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s City Hall; Queens, New York City’s most ethnically diverse borough; and the rural and suburban communities of New York State.
Ms. Santos holds a bachelor’s degree in social communications from Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her home country, and a master’s degree in print journalism from Boston University.
She came to the United States in 1998 and, prior to joining The Times, she worked at The Republican in Springfield, Mass.; The Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence, Mass.; The Daily News of New York; and People Magazine. She co-wrote “Latinos in the United States: A Resource Guide for Journalists,” published in 2001, and traveled to Colombia in 2005 as a fellow for the International Reporting Project. She speaks four languages – English, Portuguese, Spanish and French – and is trying to learn a fifth, Italian.